By Ibrahim E. Kasita
The East Africa Community (EAC) Member States have experienced various market reforms and liberalization of their energy sectors as a means of attracting the required investments.
The EAC is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six countries including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Yet, the growing population, rapid urbanisation and rising economic prosperity are magnifying the energy challenges of the EAC region.
Perhaps shortage of expertise in regulatory matters relating to the energy sector, including but not limited to facilitating the development of good policy proposals and legislation on energy regulation, in line with international trends and best regulatory practices has exacerbated the situation.
The lack of critical mass of highly skilled professionals, with specialized knowledge in policy, management, leadership, engineering and technology that is required to generate innovations needed to boost productivity in the energy sector has kept the region lagging in meeting the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Addressing the challenge of access to modern energy, affordable tariffs, reliability and quality of electricity supply, requires sustained efforts to train highly skilled energy professionals, policymakers, and practitioners, who will apply research towards the development of energy technologies and solutions for priority sectors of the economy.
Fortunately, the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA) has commenced on the the establishment of the Energy Regulation Centre of Excellence for the EAC region to address this critical challenge. The Centre is being established under the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA) supported by national governments within the region.
Mr. Geoffrey Aori Mabea, the Executive Secretary of the EREA, explains that the Centre of Excellency will complement and strengthen the ongoing EAC initiatives in the areas of research, policy and capacity development, knowledge management and raising awareness and knowledge sharing.
EREA consists of seven active members drown from the EAC Member States. They are: Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) of Tanzania; Energy Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) of Kenya; Zanzibar Utility Regulatory Authority (ZURA) of Zanzibar; and Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) of Uganda.
Others include Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) of Uganda; Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) of Rwanda; and Autorité de Régulation des secteurs de l’Eau potable et de l’Energie (AREEN) of Burundi. Advanced discussions are ongoing to support South Sudan to establish a regulatory authority. However, EREA is working directly with the Ministry of Mines and Dams of South Sudan.
EREA aspires to be an internationally recognized centre dedicated to research and to providing training in utility regulation and strategy, as well as the development of leadership in energy related matters in EAC region.
EREA has developed over 40 tools and energy regulatory frameworks under implementation in the various National Regulatory Institutions which include Regional harmonised Uniform System of Accounts (USOA); Guidelines on petroleum pricing regulations; Guidelines for Construction, Operation, and Decommissioning of Bulk Petroleum Storage Facilities; Review of Grid Codes and East African Power Pool (EAPP) Interconnection Code; Guidelines on Reticulation of LPG and Natural Gas in domestic settings; the harmonised methodology of determining the appropriate Rate of Return and Rate of Equity (ROE) on investment for EAC, among others.
These tools and frameworks promote competition, effective regulation in response to climate change. They also support the establishment of a robust power pool market with both bilateral and short-term energy markets.
The Energy Regulation Centre of Excellence will aim at research-based training; practical simulations; utilization of extensive network of global experts; and supporting the development of Africa Single Electricity Market.
EREA provides EAC and Africa an opportunity to continuously and sustainably build the internal capacity of institutions in readiness for modernisation and realisation of a robust African Energy Union. Ends…/
The Author is Energy and Extractives Professional