Under a renewable four-year contract, energy market expert Geoffrey Mabea has taken up the CEO post at the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA).
Mabea, who formerly held a teaching post at the University of Dundee in the UK, commenced his role in Arusha, Tanzania on 2 January.
The new CEO is a seasoned Kenyan energy expert and a Chevening alumnus, who has extensively researched regional energy markets and quantified the economic benefits of integrating the East African Community (EAC) energy markets.
The EREA will work towards promoting vital thematic areas such as harmonisation of policies and facilitate the establishment of an efficient market or power pool for the EAC.
The association is expected to work closely with the EAC as one of its organs to also monitor, advice, increase competition, and promote the independence of utility regulation.
Energy policy needs to be aligned
Mabea said that the EAC was poised to reap hugely in terms of energy policy harmonisation. “The alignment of energy policies, otherwise referred to as an integration of energy markets, is meant to promote regional economic development in East Africa,” he told The Star.
He added that an integrated energy market means that substantial sector reforms are pertinent.
''These include reviewing the existing laws and predicating them on a common term of convergence, strengthening the institutions such as energy regulators as well as providing robust capacity in these institutions,” he said.
According to Mabea, this would facilitate the opening up of energy trade opportunities and increased competition within the region.
He added that such development will promote the increase of the electrification rate among the countries in East Africa.
An analysis of the EAC electricity access rate from the World Bank data shows that Kenya has the highest penetration at 65%, followed by Rwanda at 34%.
Tanzania and Uganda have 33%, South Sudan at 25% and Burundi has the lowest rate of 9%.
Guiding hand at energy regulatory association
“The need to develop this entity arises from the need to support the National Regulatory Institutions, promote regional cooperation, and support the development of a robust internal energy market,” Mabea said.
According to the EAC priorities 2017-2021, infrastructure development and institution transformation are vital towards achieving the needed integration.
To date, various components such, Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union, and Political Federation seem to have made significant progress.
The establishment of EREA will further set the region into a trajectory towards harmonised Africa Electricity Market, a joint European and African Union collaboration expected to develop Energy Performance Standards and increase Energy Efficiency as well harmonise the market continentally.
This initiative brings together regional economic communities, power pools, regional regulatory authorities, and energy-efficient centres.