African Development Bank Report ‘West Africa Monitor Quarterly’ states that more than 57% of the West African population are without electricity.  The analysis forms part of the AFDB’s second quarter 2014 report.

The bank cites insufficient generation capacity, low electrification, intermittent, unreliable and costly service as contributors and the energy sector necessitating ‘policy intervention’ to address these challenges.

Access to electricity in the region varies in each country – Niger has 8 per cent access, and Burkina Faso, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone  and Guinea Bissau all having  15% per cent access. The report notes that Ghana has 70 per cent access and 87 per cent of the Cape Verdean population had means to access energy supply.There are differences in access rates in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Nigerian Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo revealed less than 50 per cent of Nigerians has access to electricity, which is seven percent lower than the west African average said AfDB. The Minister had however offered reassurance that the government is working hard to reach 75% access.

The report confirmed that countries in West Africa have joined the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (se4all) to combat  energy poverty and  work towards achieving ‘universal energy access by 2030’. The region is said to be rich in biomass, hydropower, solar, and wind resources.

The AfDB confirmed that Burkina Faso, Ghana and Guinea showed potential for hydro-power; Mali and Niger were poised for solar power and Cape Verde, while Gambia and Senegal for had latent wind potential.

‘Using such sources would help to expand access while reducing reliance on traditional biomass, increase reliability and affordability, and contribute to climate change mitigation. Hydro power in West Africa has an estimated potential of 25,000 megawatts, yet only 16 per cent has been exploited and despite its wealth in waterways, it only holds 214 dams out of 1,282 dams in Africa. In addition, several in-country lakes and dams hold promise for renewable energy development,’ the report said.