West African Countries Propose a Solar Energy Corridor

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken the initiative to create a West Africa Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC) to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix of the region.

The primary objective of WACEC is to support the development of utility-scale renewable energy-based power, to promote the integration of renewable energy sources into the West African power systems and to create a market for trans-border regional power trade.

ECOWAS Ministers of Energy endorsed the idea of WACEC in December 2016. It was later adopted by the authority of ECOWAS heads of states in June 2017, making it a priority project of the ECOWAS.

Here are some of the pillars for the implementation of WACEC:

  • Identification of high resource potential and environmentally sustainable zones
  • National and regional planning for integration of renewable energy into national and local master plans for power generation and transmission
  • Enabling frameworks to promote investments
  • Capacity building with higher shares of renewable electricity generation
  • Public support to the initiative and awareness

WACEC is a collaboration of The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the West African Power Pool (WAPP), and the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA).

Many organizations such as Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and ProMERC with funding from the European Union (EU) are supporting ECREEE to develop strategies for regional corridors for solar, wind, and hydropower.

The initial focus of WACEC is solar energy and hydropower which are the most commonly shared resources by the ECOWAS countries. The EU Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) has conducted an initial study on “West Africa Solar Corridor support program and accompanying technical and economic considerations,” addressing the specific barriers and challenges for the development of solar power in the region and giving appropriate strategy recommendations.

Africa has lately become the hotbed of renewable energy investments.

Recently, Phelan Energy Group has announced that in December 2018, its subsidiary, Solar Capital reached financial close on its third solar project. The project, located in South Africa, has a capacity of 86 MW.

This month, Inspired Evolution, an Africa-focused investment advisory firm that specializes in the clean energy sector, closed a ZAR 100 million ($7.47 million) investment facility by its Evolution II Fund into Commercial Energy SA – an affiliate of SolarAfrica.

Earlier, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) had announced an equity investment of up to $25 million in ARCH Africa Renewable Power Fund (ARPF), a $250 million private equity fund that focuses on renewable energy projects across Sub-Saharan Africa, ARPF’s anchor investing entity is ARCH Emerging Markets Partners Ltd, a London-based emerging-market investment joint venture.

Nitin is a staff reporter at Mercomindia.com and writes on renewable energy and related sectors. Prior to Mercom, Nitin has worked for CNN IBN, India News, Agricultural Spectrum and Bureaucracy Today. He received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Communication from Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University and Master’s degree in International Relations from Jindal School of International Affairs. More articles from Nitin Kabeer