Senegal is preparing to host the 2019 edition of a high profile event dubbed the West Africa Power Summit.
The affair, which will be held on the 19th of March this year, has been described as West Africa’s leading Business to Business Green Power event, and will bring together the senior decision makers from across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
West Africa has a population of 362 million which is set to grow by 2.2% per year, according to recent estimates. This makes the area the second-most populous sub-region on the continent.
West Africa has one of the fastest growing populations in the world, yet electrification rates are among the lowest. In fact, only 42% of the population on average has access to power.
This figure drops to 8% in rural areas. Blackouts adversely affect business and stifle economic growth. According to figures from the World Bank, load shedding costs the continent 2.1% of its GDP on average each year.
In 2012, West Africa’s 15 Heads of State pledged to increase the share of renewable energy in the region’s overall electricity mix to roughly 10% in 2020 and 19% by 2030, through both grid and off-grid projects.
The targets translate to an additional 2.4 giga-watts (GW) of renewable electricity capacity by 2020 and 7.6GW by 2030, according to the United Nation (UN).
“In real terms demand targets can be met by increasing the energy generation mix and removing reliance on oil, with which the commodity price fluctuates hugely as we have seen over the last 3 years, and adding more green power generation capacity in the form of gas, hydro, solar, wind and bio mass. This is exactly what the West African Power Summit is looking to assist with,” the Summit’s organisers said in a statement.
The event comes at a time when a number of African countries plan to undertake major energy projects in 2019.
Senegal and Mauritania for instance are set to implement an initiative known as the Tortue Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) project.
The initiative is expected to be the first major project to get off the ground in Senegal and Mauritania’s MSGBC Basin.
West African nations expect the Summit to improve access to power for their citizens, increase economic activity and encourage investors, both local and international, to capitalize on the opportunities it will highlight.