REGULATORS of public utilities, utility providers, investors and allied agencies all over Africa began a meeting in Accra yesterday to discuss the institution of a common regulatory framework for the continent that is non-discriminatory, promotes competition and protects investors.
The two-day conference is the fifth annual general meeting of the African Forum for Utility Regulation (AFUR).
In his opening statement as chair of the ceremony, the Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr Benard A. Forson, charged participants to do all that was in their power to ensure accessible and dependable utility services on the continent.
He conceded that the task of infrastructural development in the utility sector, and the right regulatory framework that could attract investors into the sector, among other issues, were daunting, but maintained that all needed to set their minds to it and “just do it”.
In his opening statement, an official of the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility(PPIAF)/World Bank, Mr Lorenzo Bertolini, said the collaboration between PPIAF and AFUR was suggestive of the clear commitment of the ideals of information sharing and the building of the capacity of members.
On the challenges at hand, he also listed infrastructural development and the need for a predictable set of rules in the sector.
He said the theme of the conference, “Regulatory Non-discrimination, Promotion of Competition and Protection of Investors”, was appropriate, as protecting investments had a great impact on a country’s capacity to benefit from investment in critical areas like electricity.
The Programmes Manager of GTZ, Dr El Iza Mohamedou, was pleased with the collaboration existing between GTZ and AFUR.
She announced the initiation of programmes supported by GTZ that would enable the enhanced utilisation of information by utility regulators and other partners.
Mr Antonio Pedro, Chief, NEPAD and Regional Integration at the United Nations Commission on Africa, said sub-Saharan Africa lagged behind in utility infrastructure and service delivery.
He said without an improvement in its existing infrastructure, Africa could not improve its fortunes.
Mr Pedro said Africa could not attract the needed investments for infrastructural development in the utility sector because it was still considered as a high risk investment area.
He said to change that, the right regulatory framework to enable the right environment to attract investments needed to be put in place.
In his welcoming address, the Executive Secretary of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), Mr Stephen Adu, who is also the chairman of the local organising committee of the conference, said the outcome of the discussions would feed into the development of guidelines for developing regulatory institutions in Africa.
He said AFUR was now gaining relevance as the foremost utility regulators’ association on the continent and was equally gaining international recognition.
DAILY GRAPHIC, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2008, PG 14