Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) launched

25 March 2009

The Eastern and Southern Africa bloc has launched a regional association of Energy Regulators (RAERESA). The association will monitor and evaluate energy regulatory practises among Members to determine regional training needs and promote and support the development of independent energy regulators in COMESA countries where the same are not presently established. RAERESA was launched on Monday 16th March 2009 at the COMESA Centre in Lusaka, Zambia.

Energy Regulators from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan and Zambia attended the launch. The meeting was also attended by delegates from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros and Eritrea, representing the Ministry responsible for Energy which currently regulates the energy sector in member States. The East African Community, Eastern Africa Power Pool and USAID also sent representatives to the meeting.

Zambian Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Development Honourable Gladys Lundwe officially opened the meeting. She observed that the African continent was endowed with abundant energy resources which were more than adequate to meet the continent’s development adding that there is also predominant use of the traditional biomass energy mainly in terms of wood fuels in many COMESA countries.

Honourable Lundwe indicated that the total installed capacity of the COMESA region is around 35,000 megawatts. Almost 69 % of the installed capacity is thermal, whereas, 30 % of it was hydro. She further indicated that the deficit in electricity supply, currently estimated at 20% of demand, was expected to be exacerbated in the forthcoming years to 46% in 2011 as demand grew as the result of sustained economic growth and population growth in most of the COMESA countries. She then indicated that the average electricity price for the COMESA region was around nine to ten cents per kilo watt hour which was higher compared to some regions.

Honourable Lundwe also indicated that the COMESA region's proven crude reserves were over 50 billion barrels, representing about 44 % of Africa and about 4 % of the world crude reserves and that the region produced about 3 million barrels per day (bb/d) of oil whereas it consumed slightly above 1 million bb/d.

Honourable Lundwe called for the harmonization of regulatory frameworks in the COMESA region in order to create an efficient energy sector taking into account advantages of the available capacity and economies of scale and scope was one of these interventions. On this account, she stressed that establishment of a Regional Association of Energy Regulators, whose main objective was to facilitate energy regulatory capacity-building and enhance the increasing integration of energy systems and energy trade, would be a useful and persuasive instrument.

Speaking at the same function, COMESA Secretary Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya pointed out that the main objective of COMESA was to transform the economies of the member countries through integration and collective action in order to achieve accelerated sustained economic growth and development for the material well-being of the people of the region. He further pointed out that regional integration, in today’s world, was one of the options available to generate sufficient economic activity, improve efficiency, heighten competition, attract investments, mitigate crisis, and thus create jobs and reduce poverty.

Mr. Ngwenya indicated that, lack of adequate regional energy infrastructure in the COMESA region was recognized as one of the factors that had led to high production costs. He further indicated that this situation had also culminated in low levels of competitiveness of the countries in the local, regional and global markets. He emphasized that the energy infrastructure gap should be bridged through development of the regional energy infrastructure. In this regard, Secretary General Ngwenya indicated that COMESA had embarked on an Energy Programme whose main thrust was to promote regional cooperation in energy development, trade and capacity building through harmonizing energy policy and regulatory issues, developing the COMESA region energy infrastructure through development of medium to long-term energy master plan, and facilitating trade in energy services.

The Energy Regulators that signed the RAERESA Constitution are the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Ethiopian Electricity Regulatory Agency of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Energy Regulatory Commission of the Republic of Kenya, the Madagascar Electricity Regulation Office of the Republic of Madagascar, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Malawi, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency of the Republic of Rwanda and the Electricity Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Sudan.