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JOHANNESBURG - The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States has moved to validate its regional strategy to popularise liquefied petroleum gas in West Africa to improve its economy and address health challenges and environmental degradation associated with the lack of access to the energy source particularly in rural areas, Africa Business Communities reported Tuesday.

In a two-day workshop for experts from member states held in Abuja, Nigeria, the Commissions’ Commissioner for Energy and Mines Sédiko Douka said it had become necessary for ECOWAS to address this gap in the energy sector by developing a regional strategy.

“Despite the immense energy resource potential of our region, the overall energy balance remains predominated by biomass which accounts for 80 percent of the total energy consumption in the region”, said Douka.

“Many of our people, both in rural and urban areas, have no access to electricity and use charcoal and firewood for their cooking and heating needs."

The consequences of these practices were environmental damage, particularly deforestation and air pollution, he said.

Douka also noted that while ECOWAS had put in place policies such as the ECOWAS Renewable Energy policy and the ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy, the rate of access to LPG in West Africa remained below 10 percent with 90 percent of its use concentrated in urban cities.

- African News Agency (ANA)