To address the electricity deficit in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) inaugurated, on Friday, November 17, 2023, the Information and Coordina-tion Centre (ICC) for the regional electricity market in Abomey Calavi, Benin. This initiative, or-chestrated by the West African Power Pool (WAPP), one of its specialized institutions, was real-ized with the support of the European Union. The official opening of the ICC marks the fulfill-ment of the commitment by ECOWAS countries to make electric energy readily available and cost-effective for the West African populace.
The inauguration ceremony was co-chaired by various dignitaries including H.E. Mr. Edouard DAHOME, the Secretary of State for Energy, representing H.E Mr. Patrice TALON, President of Benin; H.E. Mr.Adebayo ABDELABU, Minister of Energy, representing H.E Mr. Bola Ahmed TINUBU, President of Nigeria and current ECOWAS Chair;H.E. Madam Damtien TCHINT-CHIBIDJA, Vice-President, representing H.E Mr. Omar Alieu TOURAY, President of the ECOWAS Commission; H.E Madam Sylvia HARTLEIF, Ambassador, representing the European Un-ion Delegation in Benin; and H.E. Madam Jutta URPILAINNEN, European Commissioner for International Partnerships. Several other distinguished personalities graced this significant event, including the ECOWAS Commissioner Sédiko DOUKA for Infrastructure, Water, Energy, and Digitalization, Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, President of WAPP's Executive Board, Mr. Siengui KI, Secretary-General of WAPP, the World Bank Representative, Mr. Kwawu Mensan GABA, Directors and representatives of Electric Power Companies, WAPP members, ECOWAS and WAPP partners, the Mayor, traditional leaders, and the populace of the Abomey Calavi Commune.
The inauguration ceremony was marked by vibrant cultural activities. Welcoming the dignitar-ies, Mayor Angelo AHOUANDJINOU expressed the joy of his community for being chosen to host the headquarters of WAPP and ICC. His welcome address was followed by that of the Sec-retary-General of WAPP, the representative of the Prefect of Atlantique, the World Bank repre-sentative, and the Head of the European Union Delegation in Benin. They all praised the initia-tive and ECOWAS' decision to consolidate its energy resources for inclusive development.
"The establishment of the Information and Communication Centre for the WAPP highlights our strong commitment to transforming clean energy in West Africa as part of our Global Gateway strategy in the region," stated S.E. Madame Jutta URPILAINNEN, European Commissioner for International Partnerships.
Speaking on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission President, Vice-President Damtien TCHINT-CHIBIDJA reiterated the lengthy path leading to the establishment of the ICC. She expressed gratitude to the Authorities of Benin for hosting the WAPP and ICC headquarters and acknowl-edged the partners for their support to ECOWAS. She emphasized that, "The implementation of the ICC will increase the energy transaction rate, currently at 10% in the sub-region."
"The European Union has a strategic interest in joining forces with Africa to overcome these global challenges. Hence, the EU and Team Europe presented the largest-ever international investment program by Europe, the Global Gateway. This 300 billion euro program aims to fi-nance and build modern, reliable, and sustainable infrastructures, such as the Information and Coordination Center for WAPP," highlighted Ms. Sylvia HARTLEIF, EU Ambassador to the Re-public of Benin.
The official launch of the ICC was declared by H.E. Mr. Edouard Dahomey, Secretary of State for Energy of Benin, representing President Patrice TALON. He reaffirmed the commitment of the Benin government to support large-scale electricity projects for the people.
To recap, the ICC is a state-of-the-art infrastructure equipped with the latest technologies. Fi-nanced through a EUR 38 million grant from the European Union, this center allows real-time monitoring of the sub-regional electricity market's situation regarding production, availability, and exchanges among ECOWAS member countries.
The opening of the Centre is the result of over two decades of relentless work by electricity sec-tor stakeholders, particularly WAPP's technical and financial partners, to interconnect the elec-tricity grids of all ECOWAS member countries. Less than twenty-five years after its inception, WAPP has achieved significant milestones: electrical interconnection of the 14 continental ECOWAS countries, construction of 5,748 km of 330 kV and 225 kV High Voltage lines, installa-tion of 2,414 MW of electrical power (hydropower, gas, and solar), 2,763 km of High Voltage lines, and 2,455 MW of production, mainly from renewable sources, currently underway.
All these projects will contribute to enhancing energy exchanges in the sub-region and making the West African electricity market more appealing. The ultimate goal of establishing the re-gional market is to definitively overcome energy crises in the ECOWAS zone and provide mem-ber countries with accessible, sustainable, and affordable electric energy for economic prosperity.
The ICC is operational and is already managing the bilateral market, initiated in 2018, as well as the pilot phase of the competitive market. In addition to technical energy market infrastruc-ture, it houses the administrative offices of WAPP's Secretariat. The Center covers an area of 5,000 m2 built on 3.75 hectares of land in the Abomey-Calavi Commune located in the northern suburbs of Cotonou, the capital of Benin.