West Africa Map. Pic credit FreeLargeImage
Daniel Kablan Duncan. Ivory Coast. Prime Minister. Pic credit World Bank
Ivoirian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan along with four other heads of state urged governments to carry out deep structural and sectoral reforms. Pic credit: World Bank

On Tuesday, the prime ministers of Benin, Mali, Niger, Togo and the Ivory Coast urged regional governments to liberalise the West African region’s electricity sector to overcome insufficient power capacities.

The appeal was made in Abidjan, during the founding meeting of the West African Energy Leaders Group — an initiative assembling political and business leaders seeking to boost public-private power development projects in the region, reported the AFP.

Ivoirian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and the summit’s host said: “African states must carry out deep structural and sectoral reforms, notably the liberalisation of the electricity sector.”

Private sector investment

Duncan stressed that the private sector is the only actor in the energy sector capable of “assuming the often considerable investments that are virtually impossible for state budgets alone to finance” in an appeal co-signed with his fellow heads of government.

He said efforts to resolve the region’s chronic shortages of electricity have become even more urgent amid “the strong economic growth observed over the last five years demanding more and more energy resources.”

Duncan noted that 15% of the world’s total population lives in Africa, but consumes a mere 3% of global electricity supplies. He called the limited access to energy “a major [constraint] on the economic and social development of the continent.”

Around 61% of the 300 million people living in the 15 Community of West African States’ member countries live without access to electricity, Duncan noted.

Power development

According to the AfDB about $42 billion in investment funds will be needed between now and 2040 to meet Africa’s power development needs, which it says will require a ten-fold increase in current levels of private sector participation.

The Ivory Coast — the leading economic power in French-speaking West Africa — began reconstruction of its power grid following the period of violence during 2010-2011.

Ivoirian authorities plan to invest $18 billion in the energy sector by 2030, with a large portion of that expected to come from the private sector.