Published: 12-AUG-04

IN the second resolution taken at the 34th Ordinary General Assembly meeting of UPDEA in Nairobi last year, there were requests that the DR Congo Gabon- Cameroon Nigeria; DR Congo Angola Namibia- RSA; Zambia - Tanzania Kenya groupings should meet as soon as possible to harmonise the technical/economic options related to these regional projects. A task-force appointed to harmonise and optimise the technical/economic options related to these projects met in Ghana (Akossombo) on the occasion of the Scientific Committee meeting which took place from 12th to 14th July 2004.

• What is the latest with the databank project?

After the experts meeting in Abidjan in March 2003, another coordination meeting is planned which will involve the African Energy Commission, representatives of Regional Economic Communities (REC) and coordinators of sub-regional power-pools; the meeting is aimed at discussing the best way to working in synergy as far as data processing in the power sector is concerned in Africa.

• When is the next meeting for the UPDEA Ordinary General Assembly in 2005?

The next Ordinary meeting of the GA is scheduled for 19 - 23 November in Khartoum, Sudan.

•Has the UPDEA managed to increase its financial resources with its financial partners?

There is no increase of financial resources yet; but we are optimistic.

• Since the ordinary general meeting last year, have there been any new members?

Since November 2003 GA, two new members have joined the Union; LEC (Lesotho Electricity Corporation) and UEDCL (Uganda Electricity Distribution Corporation Ltd).

The UPDEA says the implementation of regional projects is a long process with their own life cycle,but the projects are going on well. Updea has just completed a round of regional meetings with representatives and power specialists of the West-Africa / Central Africa /Southern Africa and at last, Eastern Africa regions respectively in Lome, Douala, Luanda and Kigali, with regards to the Pilot Programme of inter-African cross border village electrification projects.

These meetings were aimed at informing and sensitising potential participants on the project specifications and the necessity of forwarding their electrification projects on time to enabling finalisation of the draft Pilot-Programme to be discussed with AfDB in mid-June 2004. And so far, more than 85 projects not exceeding US$ 10 million each have been recorded.


The Southern African Power Pool is the most advanced of all power pools on the continent. Energy analysts describe it as a good example of a move from cooperative pool to a competitive power market and is an association of utilities from twelve SADC member countries.

The SAPP vision is to develop a competitive market where end users have a choice for their electricity supply. Membership is expected to be opened up to allow more players.

What’s new?

A Short Term Energy Market is already operational and a study is on going for the establishment of a spot market. The SAPP is also promoting the coordination of planning activities to ensure the expansion of the capacity in generation and transmission which will support the development of the pool. There is a continuous project tracking for the implementation of the the generation capacity plan and the priority transmission project.

A Coordination Center (CC) has been estabished in Harare as a focal point for the coordination of SAPP activities. The CC is in charge of the management of the Short term Energy Market.

The SAPP is moving with success from bilateral trading to a more generic and orderly power trading with transparent rules.


The West African Power Pool (WAPP) was launched after the persistent energy crisis in the West Africa region in the late 1990s.

What’s new?

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is putting in place the legal and institutional framework as well as the infrastructure for the power regional trade in West Africa.

Priority projects are under implementation to complete the interconnection between all the countries by 2010 and upgrade the capacity of existing interconnection lines. The governance and regulatory institutions are still in the implementation phase. The Energy Observatory, which is the embryo of the Information and Coordination Center started in 2004 in Cotonou, Benin. However the adoption of the Energy Protocol, which is in the ratification process by the member states, represent an important step towards the establishment of a regional legal framework. The protocol is modeled on the European Charter and has the following objectives:

• To ensure free trade of energy, equipment and products related to energy between Member States

•To define non-discriminatory rules for trade and dispute resolution

• To attract and protect private investments

•To ensure the protection of environment and development of energy efficiency.

Energy information

The third resolution arrived at the 34th Ordinary General Assembly of the UPDEA in November 2003 was establishing a properly working energy databank system.

What’s new?

The Energy Observatory will establish an information, monitoring and warning system on the member Sates on the energy situation to:

• improve the quality of the power energy supply in the region

• develop common operating system rules or a grid code

• develop technical standards for collection and treatment of information and performance monitoring.

The process of setting up an Independent Regional Regulatory entitity is at the feasibility stage in coordination with the national regulatory bodies, expected to be launched before the end of 2004. The main activities of this body will be to:

•review bulk power transactions to analyse their efficiency and monitor their vulnerability to anti-competitive conduct

•ensure the stakeholders respect their commercial and contractual commitments

•supervise the creation of an effective system for resolution of disputes and enforcing the regulatory function of the regulatory function

•create effective communication with member state governments, regulators and utilities

•enforce uniform technical rules for the management of trade on the interconnected grids.

WAPP is also developing a regional planing exercise based on a specific regional planing optimisation model. Even if the WAPP is using lesons learned from SAPP, it is building its own strategy compatible with its own regional constraints. The region however needs to fast track the development of interconnectivity and capacity of supply.

Central Africa, the latest

The Central African Power Pool and the Nile Basin Regional Power trade project were created in 2003. The Nile Basin project, established in Dar es Salam, has two main components:

•The establishment of a power forum to support continued discourse and promote power trade among the Nile Basin countries through the development of an institutional and management framework as well as planning and management tools.

•A comprehensive basin-wide analysis of long term power supply, demand and trade opportunities in order to inform the planning of multi purpose river basin management in the Subsidiary Action Programs of the Nile Basin Initiative.

North Africa: the latest

The regional MEDA project (Mediterranean Electricity Ring) is becoming the main regional power initiative in the northern Africa region. The project is promoted by MEDELEC, which was created between the different electricity associations of the Mediterraenean basin, such as UNIPEDE, Eurelectric, and UCPTE for the North, COMELEC, UAPTDE and UPDEA for the South.


Main constraints for the development of the regional power trade are physical and technical constraints and institutional and legal constraints. Technical constraints include insufficient generation capacity, lack of interconnectivity and insufficient transmission capacity, non-harmonised operating procedures and standards and non-harmonised plannng criteria.

•Insufficient generation capacity All the regions are experiencing insufficient generation capacity, except in the North and in the South. The Southern region is expected to run out of reserves in the medium term and a reserve margin of between 20 and 25 percent is recommended.

•Lack of interconnectivity and insufficient transmission capacity: The interconnection transmission network is generally not completed except in the northern region.

•Non-harmonised operating procedures and standards: Technical co-ordination is essential and the issue of communication and language must also be tackled.

•Non harmonised planning criteria: A flexible regional master plan is needed to and there needs to be articulation between national and regional plans.

There are also geographical constraints like desert and rainforest which are an obstacle in the development of interconnection facilities. The zones of war, which result in political instability, also become obstacles.

Work still outstanding:

The SAPP still needs to connect Angola, Malawi and Tanzania. In West Africa there are three separate interconnected sub-systems and five countries, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia, are still isolated. But given the priority projects planned by WAPP, it is expected to have all the countries, except Liberia in the same interconnected system by 2010.

In the Nile Basin, the riparian countries are classified in two sub regions, the Eastern Nile Region (ENR) and the Nile Equatorial Lakes Region (NELR), which is made up by the Eastern part of the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. At present there are no interconnections in the ENR and therefore no international power trade. In the NELR there is some modest bilateral trade of power between Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya on one side and on another side is the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi.

Institutional and legal constraints include the non-harmonised policy and legal framework, access to generation and transmission resource, a lack of transparent transmission resources, a lack of transparent transmission pricing system and also difficulties in securing payment and a lack of regional regulation and mechanism for dispute resolution.

Print this page Send this article to a friend

Subscribe now!
Subscribe to Business in Africa magazine now and receive full access to this website.
Find out more...

Market news on your cellphone
Get live JSE listed shares, warrants, major indices, brent crude oil, international markets, agricultural futures & daily market analysis via SMS on your mobile.
Find out more...

Eskom leaders forum
African business and public sector leaders define and construct a prosperous future for the continent.
Find out more...

Online travel bookings
Planning to travel? Book accommodation in Africa & South Africa here.
Book now...

 Have your say
Chat on the Business in Africa forums with other readers about the issues of the day, affecting Africa.
Post your comment...

Calculate the latest currency rates for Africa and world currencies
Find out more...

Have your magazine delivered via the Web, anywhere in the world, directly to your PC!
Find out more...

Contact us | About us | Newsletter | Subscription centre | Advertising

All material copyright Business in Africa. All rights reserved. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission. Read these terms & conditions. Read our privacy statement and security statement. Powered by Mail & Guardian Online &