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Renewable, clean energy critical for West African intergration

28 June 2010 – Clean and efficient energy plays a critical role in development in West African states, Mr Janik VAA, Head of Infrastructure and Sustainable Development of European Union (EU) Delegation in Ghana, has said.

Making the observation in Accra on Friday, he stressed that provision of a clean and efficient energy was critical for both national and regional integration of countries in the sub-region adding energy and economic development was inseparably linked.  Basically, energy produced usually from renewable resources without creating environmental debt.

Mr VAA was addressing the closing session of the third batch of series of workshops organised by the management of West African Power Pool (WAPP) in collaboration with management of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) for engineers and technicians.

The three-week workshop, sponsored by the EU, is to build the capacity of senior engineers and technicians in the energy sector drawn from Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

It is aimed at improving the reliability and quality of power supply in the sub-region through capacity building of member states and development of the manpower skills needed to effectively maintain and operate their electric power systems.

The training modules for the course included transformer and substation maintenance and repair, overhead and underground cable techniques and distribution system design.

Mr VAA traced the relationship between the EU and WAPP to September 2009 saying support to the training programme had been within the framework of the on-going capacity building support programme for the WAPP General Secretariat located in Cotonou, Benin.

"The support programme to WAPP. would run over a period of three years.

The financial assistance amounts to 1.8 million euros and the funds are coming from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and EU Energy facility," he said.

The ACP-EU Energy Facility is co-financing instrument established in 2005 to support projects on increasing access to sustainable and affordable energy services for the people living in rural and peri-urban areas in ACP countries.

Mr VAA said EU’s support to WAPP sought to assist countries in West Africa to develop electricity production and distribution at regional level and to strengthen regional integration in West Africa.

"In order to support regional integration, a programme of support of 597 million euros, has been agreed for the period 2008 to 2013. This support is targeted at deepening regional integration, improving competitiveness and economic partnership agreements, consolidation of good governance and regional stability," he said.

Mr Amadou Diallo, Secretary General of WAPP, in a speech read on his behalf called on the 15 participants to utilise the training to effect a positive change in their respective countries of origin.

"It is my fervent hope that customers in our respective countries would see an improvement in the quality of service that we provide. The training you have received should be a turning point in your life and charge all of you to make a difference at your workplace," he said.

Mr Tetteh Okine, Director of Operations, ECG, said WAPP had reposed confidence in ECG and had identified the utility entity as one of the

leading companies in the region that could provide electric utility engineers and technicians of member countries with comprehensive training in power systems on practical applications.

He expressed the hope that the training programmes would enhance cohesion and foster the spirit of mutual assistance among WAPP members.

The WAPP is a cooperation of the national electricity companies under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Members of WAPP are working towards the establishment of a reliable power grid for the region and a common market for electricity. It was founded in 2000.

It is a means by which utilities in member countries have decided to come together to pool the electricity resources for cheaper and quality electric power to their citizens.