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ECOWAS launches $568 million North Backbone electricity project

H. E Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger, and his Ghanian counterpart, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), officially launched this Tuesday, 22 February 2022 in Gorou banda, a community located about ten kilometres from Niamey, the Regional Electricity Interconnection Project called “North Backbone Project” which involves Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.

The ECOWAS North Backbone Project, with an overall cost of $568.2 million, aims at setting up a 330kW interconnection line, called North Backbone, to supply electricity to Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo from Nigeria.

The project is funded by the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the French Development Agency, the European Union with consideration from Nigeria. The construction work of the electricity interconnection project will be completed in 2024.

In his speech, Mahamane Sani Issoufou Mahamadou, Niger’s Minister for Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy, expressed his satisfaction with the selection of Niger to launch the North Backbone Regional Electricity Interconnection Project through the West African Power Pool (WAPP). The Minister also welcomed H.E. Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger, and H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at the inaugural ceremony. The Minister described the North Backbone project as a far-reaching regional project that will have a positive impact on our communities by facilitating electricity trade in the sub-region and extending access to electricity to the communities along the transmission line, i.e. 611 communities, including 179 in Burkina Faso and 432 in Niger.

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Mr Sédiko Douka, Commissioner for Mines and Energy, representing H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, stated in his speech that the presence of the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority alongside the President of Niger shows the importance that the Heads of State attach to energy and other important subjects for regional economic integration. “It goes to show that ECOWAS is also concerned about physical infrastructure (transport, energy, telecommunications, water), in addition to agriculture and food security, single currency, the common external tariff, free movement of goods and services and the right of establishment, among others,” he added.
Commissioner Sédiko Douka also stated that the construction of the line, which will be completed in 18 months, has taken into consideration all environmental and social aspects, including compensation, resettlement, institutional aspects, and capacity building, in strict compliance with international standards.

This flagship project complements two other similar projects in West Africa, namely OMVG (Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau) with the construction of nearly 1,700 km line and the CLSG (Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea) with 1,300 km interconnection lines, each of which has a rural electrification component.

The completion of these three projects will result in the interconnection of all 14 countries of the ECOWAS region, a favourable situation for the effective implementation of the regional electricity market launched in 2018 by the West African regional organisation.

Other speeches delivered during the ceremony included that of Mr Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Chair of the WAPP Executive Board and the speech by Kwasu Mensan Gaba, coordinator of the project’s Technical and Financial Partners. They both welcomed this initiative by ECOWAS and pledged to support its implementation while welcoming the assurance given to them regarding the security of the construction work and the structure, once completed.

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