AfDB, COMESA launch $1.5 million project to improve electricity regulation in the region
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have launched a new regional initiative to enhance the sustainability of the electricity sector in Eastern and Southern Africa through harmonized regulatory frameworks.
The initiative, named “Regional Harmonization of Regulatory Frameworks and Tools for Improved Electricity Regulation in COMESA,” aims at effective, transparent, uniform, and enforceable regulatory frameworks in the region. The ultimate objective is to stimulate cross-border electricity trade and improve energy access in the COMESA region The launch was conducted today at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia, jointly by the COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe and the AfDB Country Manager Mr. Raubil Durowoju.
The project comprises three key components, including: (i) the Elaboration and Adoption of Regional Electricity Regulatory Principles, and Regulatory and Utility Key Performance Indicators based on the AfDB’s flagship Electricity Regulatory Index for Africa for the COMESA region; (ii) Harmonised Comparison of Electricity Tariffs and Cost Reflectivity Assessment Framework Tool; and (iii) the development of an Information and Database Management System.
COMESA will be the executing agency for the Project, and the Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) of COMESA will be the implementing agency of the project, assisted by the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA). The AfDB has provided a USD1.5m grant for the project through African Development Fund — the concessional window of the Bank.
Appreciating the AfDB for funding the project, Ms Kapwepwe noted it will support in establishing clear principles, rules, processes, and standards to enhance monitoring of progress of the electricity sector’s development.
“Under-developed regulatory frameworks and the absence of a framework for monitoring progress complicates implementation modalities and inhibits investment decisions on electricity infrastructure projects,” she said.
The current electricity access rate in the COMESA region stands at 60%, meaning that almost half of the population lacks access to electricity. This has hindered the region’s economic growth, with underdeveloped and underfunded energy infrastructure leading to low levels of electrification and unreliable energy supply.
She emphasized that these challenges need to be addressed urgently to unlock the region’s full economic potential.
“It is virtually impossible to achieve sustainable development without adequate investment in electricity infrastructure,” she said. “The lack of access to reliable electricity supply not only hinders economic growth but also limits opportunities for individuals and communities to improve their livelihoods.”
She noted that the COMESA region was, ironically endowed with enormous unexploited natural resources required for power sector development. These include vast solar and wind resources in virtually all Member States, significant geothermal energy in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and abundant hydropower resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, and Zambia, among others. These resources could be utilized to meet the energy needs of the region.
Mr. Durowoju commended COMESA Member States for their commitment to regional integration initiatives and advancing energy infrastructure in the region.
He noted that, a consistent and coordinated approach to addressing key regional energy infrastructure deficits, particularly regional interconnections, supported by relevant Institutional, Policy and Regulatory Reforms at the regional level will be required to achieve a fully integrated, competitive, and harmonized electricity market in Africa as envisaged under the African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM) initiative.
“While the AfDB continues to finance key regional power inter-connectors across the continent to boost regional electricity trade, the Bank is equally committed to complementing that effort with soft infrastructure initiatives on harmonization of policy and regulatory frameworks” Mr. Durowoju said and further emphasized that, in addition to this COMESA project, the Bank is funding similar regulatory harmonization initiatives in SADC, ECOWAS, and ECCAS. These efforts contribute to achieving the goals under the Africa Single Electricity Market.
Participants to the meeting included representatives of the AfDB, the European Union Delegation to Zambia and COMESA, the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa, and the Regional Association of Energy Regulators of Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA).