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African power pools and regional electricity market design: taking stock of regional integration in energy sectors

M.A.E. Elabbas, L.J. de Vries, A. Correljé

Energy Research & Social Science Vol. 105, pp. 103291-1 - 103291-18


While the traditional perspective on regional power pools is that of regional electricity markets, regional power pools in Africa are development tools with unrepresentative and under-researched dynamics in their evolution and market design. Five African power pools are under development to bring the continent into a single electricity market. This paper analyses the evolution of African power pools by examining their design factors and dynamics. It compares the three most advanced power pools (SAPP, WAPP and EAPP) to identify barriers, forces, and development approaches. The paper devises a multilayer analytical framework to organise the various elements in the institutional context of African power pools and structure the analysis of the physical, economic, institutional and political factors. The analysis shows that the unequal distribution of natural energy endowments across the regions stimulated the historical development of interconnections and trade between countries. The characteristics of regional integration were vital in shaping the power pool’s institutions and development approaches. We have identified three motors of change that have driven the development; regional economic communities, members’ strategies, and international institutions. It is crucial for progress that the pool staff can mitigate non-cooperative strategies, address members’ concerns, and incentivise a shift in national agendas to build confidence in regional trade.

Spanish layman's summary:

El documento analiza la evolución del comercio regional de electricidad en África y el desarrollo de los consorcios energéticos africanos que pretenden establecer mercados regionales de electricidad. Analiza los distintos actores y factores que han configurado la trayectoria de desarrollo en tres regiones africanas diferentes.

English layman's summary:

The paper discusses the evolution of regional power trade in Africa and the development of African power pools that seek to establish regional electricity markets. It analyses the different actors and factors that have shaped the development trajectory in three different African regions.

Keywords: Regional electricity market; African power pools; Power sector reforms; Market design; Regional integration; Comparative case study

JCR Impact Factor and WoS quartile: 6,700 - Q1 (2022)

DOI reference: DOI icon https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2023.103291

Published on paper: November 2023.

Published on-line: September 2023.

M.A.E. Elabbas, L.J. de Vries, A. Correljé, African power pools and regional electricity market design: taking stock of regional integration in energy sectors. Energy Research & Social Science. Vol. 105, pp. 103291-1 - 103291-18, November 2023. [Online: September 2023]

    Research topics:
  • Energy markets design and regulation