Great Strides in Regional Energy Development Amidst COVID-19

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic reverberated across the region with almost every sector adversely impacted. Implementation of the COMESA projects which are mainly driven through direct stakeholders’ engagement, in multiple States were specifically affected.

The project on Enhancement of a Sustainable Regional Energy Market in the Eastern Africa-Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region (ESREM/EA-SA-IO) is one of those whose final year of implementation covering the period 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021 experienced setbacks because of the pandemic.

The ESREM project covers the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the relevant regional specialized institutions.

According to the fourth Progress report (2020-2021) presented by the Project Management Unit (PMU) during the 7th Meeting of the Programme Technical Steering Committee (PTSC) held virtually on Thursday 20 May 2021, activities that were mostly affected by the pandemic situation were meetings, workshops, and capacity building programmes and the implementation of the Framework consultancy.

Despite the setbacks, several milestones were reached through virtual engagements with stakeholders. Among them, was the development of a Framework for a regionally harmonized energy regulatory sector. The Framework in 2020 and submitted to the five Regional Economic Communities (RECs) participating in the project for adoption and implementation.

The COMESA Policy Organs considered and adopted the Report during its October/November 2020 Council meetings. The Framework consultant, CPCS Transcom International Limited was engaged to provide technical support to domesticate the harmonized regulatory framework at RECs and Member State level and to review national regulatory instruments for 14 Member States in the region.

The Framework consultancy was further engaged to provide technical support to enhance market rules for regional energy trading and develop MoUs between the East African Power Pool (EAPP) and the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) to support the inter-regional power trading. This is intended to achieve a harmonized transmission pricing, interconnection and marketing codes and development of regional Memorandum of Understandings and Agreements.

The project also provided technical support to several countries without autonomous energy regulators at the time the project commenced in 2017. Among them, the D R Congo, Djibouti, Comoros, Libya and South Sudan.

Other accomplishments include the development of a roadmap towards the transformation of the Regional Energy Regulators Association (RERA) into a Regional Regulator for SADC.  In its current form, RERA does not have a mandate to provide regulatory oversight over the regional energy market in SADC.

Speaking at the opening of the 7th PTSC Meeting, COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes Amb. Dr. Kipyego Cheluget said the generation and provision of energy remains one of the biggest challenges in the region and the African continent.

“The current energy crisis in the region underscores the need for prioritizing the identification and development of alternative and renewable sources of energy,” he said.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Regional Economic Communities COMESA, EAC, SADC, IGAD and IOC.

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