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ECOWAS, APPA to collaborate on developing energy sector in W/Africa

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Petroleum Producers’ Association (APPA) have agreed to cooperate and collaborate to further develop the energy sector in the region. 

This followed the singing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy and related activities between the two organizations at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of APPA which held in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, 15th March, 2016. The MoU was signed on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission by the Commissioner of Energy and Mines, Dr. Morlaye Bangoura and the President of APPA, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu on behalf his association.

In a goodwill message at the meeting, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, who was represented by the Commissioner for Energy and Mines, Dr. Morlaye Bangoura expressed enthusiasm over the cooperation and collaboration, which he believed will bring about the much needed development in the energy sector, especially as it concerns hydrocarbons. He acknowledged the tireless efforts of the APPA Secretariat in working with the Commission to put together the MoU, which will serve as the basis for further collaborative activities in the field of energy between the two organizations. He added that these new developments will serve as catalysts in enhancing energy production, distribution and efficient utilization in the West African sub-region.

Dr. Bangoura further stated that since its formation in 1975 the Commission had continued to open new frontiers and initiate programs in several sectors with the aim of ensuring social harmony, peace and stability in the region, in order to improve the lives of the people, and accelerate economic development and regional integration. In this regard, significant progress was made particularly in terms of peace and regional security, free movement of people and goods, development of regional infrastructure in the transport sector and energy, trade and customs. He added that regarding the energy sector, ECOWAS was active for several years to ensure a reliable supply of energy (electricity, oil, coal and gas) in the region, improving energy security and ensuring access to modern energy services throughout the region.

He listed some of the achievements of ECOWAS in energy sector which includes the creation of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) for electrical interconnection between Member States and the development of means of production. Others are the promotion and popularization of renewable energy and energy efficiency through the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Centre (ECREEE) and the formation of regional regulatory agency for the regulation of electricity market through ERERA as well as the West African gas pipeline construction to supply natural gas to Benin, Togo and Ghana from Nigeria for the production of electricity.

The Commissioner added that despite these achievements there remain many challenges in the energy sector in our region, particularly the hydrocarbons subsector. He said securing hydrocarbon supplies of ECOWAS Member States, development of oil infrastructure and gas market, harmonization of specifications and regulations as well as the modernization of crude oil valuation tools are still major concerns. He added that ECOWAS has been working actively to implement mechanisms to enable us to provide sustainable solutions to these problems of hydrocarbon sector for the well-being of our region.

As part of the solutions to these challenges, ECOWAS identified and acknowledged the experience and expertise of APPA, whose credentials in promoting joint initiatives and projects in policy and management strategies in all areas of the oil industry is tested and trusted. This expertise and experience will benefit ECOWAS in the thinking and implementation of solutions tailored to address challenges of hydrocarbon energy in the region.

In this regard, the Commission is looking forward to the cooperation initiated through the MoU between the two institutions which has at its core the development of exploration and oil production, as well as recovery of oil resources and the generation of electrical energy. Others are the development of oil infrastructure and gas and related industries, while securing hydrocarbon supplies. It also includes building human resource capacity in the energy sector and hydrocarbons, as well as the promotion of Local Content in the energy sector and hydrocarbons.

The partnership will also develop common strategies for securing supplies of energy including hydrocarbons; promote efficient supply infrastructure development policies, transport and distribution of hydrocarbons through regional integration projects. It will also work towards harmonization of contractual frameworks, policies, regulation and tax based on the implementation of joint activities, mutual technical assistance, information exchange, training and participation in specific meetings.

The MOU is also an important step in strengthening the cooperation already underway between the two organizations and would be an opportunity for ECOWAS and APPA to unite their efforts to develop activities in the hydrocarbon sector. It is therefore absolutely necessary given the current situation of the oil sector to work towards the implementation of strategies and appropriate actions for the development and integration of the hydrocarbons sector to enable Member States take the countless opportunities in sub-region oil resources.

Earlier in his remarks at the occasion, the President of APPA, who is also the Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, reiterated the commitment of APPA towards the continuous development of the hydrocarbon sector in Africa for the benefit of its teeming population.  He added that the Continent must work towards turning the fortunes of the oil and gas industry, so that people across the continent will not see the sector as a curse instead of blessing that it is.

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of APPA, where the MoU was signed was attended by ministers of petroleum and energy of the various member states, stakeholders in the oil and gas industry in Africa, ECOWAS Director of Energy, Mr. Bayaornibe Dabire and other participants from local and international community.

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