Regional institution to enhance capacity in energy sector in East Africa mooted

EAST AFRICA – The Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA) has announced plans to establish a US$15 million regional centre in Arusha Tanzania that will help enhance sustainable capacity and energy trade in the East African region.

The Executive Secretary of EREA, Geoffrey Mabea said plans are at an advanced stage to commence the implementation of the project and the project has the backing of member states of the East Africa Community (EAC) bloc and is expected to boost intra-regional electricity trade.

EREA is hoping the centre will also facilitate the development of energy-related infrastructure in the region, boost the growth of value chains and enhance skills development. 

“The project will help us enhance skills, knowledge and competencies critical for regional policy harmonisation and integration with the project not only benefitting the region but other stakeholders in Africa,” said Mabea.

“For increased operational efficiency to achieve the EAC’s policy harmonization agenda there is a need to develop highly skilled staff to provide services in the highly specialized field,” Mabea added.

The establishment of a regional energy centre of this kind is a first for Africa and the centre is expected to boost the trade of electricity between member countries within the East African Community (EAC) bloc. 

A country like Kenya currently produces 2,177 megawatts(MW) of electricity against a demand of 1600 MW so the country is not only able to meet its power requirements but also has the capacity to export excess electricity.

Part of the objectives of the energy centre will be to streamline energy trade within the EAC region.

The project will immensely contribute to the continental integration agenda by enhancing connectivity beyond EAC and the operationalization of the Eastern Power Pool,” concluded Mabea.

Governments of East Africa through a Memorandum of Understanding that is in circulation for signatures have agreed and committed to push for suitable capacity building in the region and EREA has developed a concept note for the state-of-the-art institution.

“The project will immensely contribute to the continental integration agenda by enhancing connectivity beyond EAC and the operationalization of the Eastern Power Pool”

This will address the low level of a highly skilled workforce which has delayed the implementation of many regional projects such as the operationalization of the power pool, integration of renewable energy models, and efficient exploitation of oil and gas.

 In addition, the current ad-hoc training available outside the continent is costly and available occasionally.

 “This will promote a robust East African Energy Union. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the region and Africa to collaborate with willing development partners to initiate a short-term and long-term sustainable capacity-building strategy,” Mabea said.

Mabea added that  implementation of the project will increase intra-regional trade, “as a result of the development of regional value chains, increase in growth as a result of the development of regional infrastructure projects and sharing of experiences and best practices.”

He said that the private sector will also benefit indirectly from an improved business environment due to the expected harmonization of tariff methodologies and other instruments.

Mabea, who is an energy economist, was optimistic that with the high interest created by development partners, the construction of the structure will commence within a year.

He noted that at the moment, the secretariat is working with other stakeholders such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) is offering online courses to energy stakeholders in Africa.

“These specialized courses have attracted a number of candidates across Africa,” he said.

He added that in the Electricity Regulatory Index 2020 report by AfDB, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya were among the best five countries in Africa in regulation.

“The index considers three key indicators; Regulatory Governance, Regulatory Substance and Regulatory Outcome,” he concluded.

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