ESEF 2020 calls for acceleration of decentralised renewable energy in West Africa

30 November 2020 | The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held its fourth annual Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF 2020) from 24-26 November 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s ESEF was held virtually under the high-patronage of His Excellency, Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission.

The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) instituted the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF) in 2017 to support the investment and policy initiatives of member states in the regional renewable energy sector. Since its inception, the forum has proven to be the largest sustainable energy gathering in the West African region.

Held in partnership with the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) and supported by GET.invest, this year’s trilingual event attracted nearly 1,200 registrations including energy experts as well as diverse group of stakeholders, financial institutions and civil society, highlighting the collective progress in achieving the ECOWAS regional sustainable energy targets while emphasising the remaining challenges faced by stakeholders in building a robust renewable energy and energy efficiency market.

Over 700 participants registered for the GET.invest Matchmaking sessions, an opportunity to connect with potential business partners, investors and relevant experts in virtual interactions.

ESEF 2020 which coincided with ECREEE’s 10-year anniversary as a specialised institution with the mandate of promoting sustainable energy, raised awareness on the progress made by ECOWAS member states towards achieving sustainable energy targets for 2030.

Addressing the audience at the opening ceremony, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Energy and Mines, Douka Sediko described the renewable energy opportunities in the ECOWAS region as significant and called for a concerted effort in mobilising necessary finances. Commissioner Douka informed dignitaries that ECOWAS has put in place an enabling environment for investment in the region and therefore encourages businesses to always reach out to them for collaborations to expand the renewable energy and energy efficiency market.

 

  • Behind the scenes at ESEF2020
    Behind the scenes at ESEF2020 Photo: CEFE/Conoscope

Several high-level panel discussions were organised during the forum over three days – some of which focused on the role of off-grid renewables in achieving SDGs in the ECOWAS region.

During the panel ‘Women entrepreneurs as key drivers of growth in the RE sector: Promoting gender equality in the ECOWAS renewable energy sector’, ARE launched its new gender publication with recommendations based on 17 case studies from members. The publication, supported by GET.invest, entitled ‘Women Entrepreneurs as Key Drivers in the DRE: Best Practices and Innovative Business Models’, highlights the essential role women play in energy access and sustainable socio-economic development in rural communities and serves as inspiration for innovative gender-sensitive approaches to consolidate gender equality at each level of the DRE supply chain.

Addressing the closing ceremony, the Acting Executive Director of ECREEE, Bah F.M. Saho described the annual forum as another opportunity for member states to assess progress made at the national level towards achieving the 2020/2030 sustainable energy targets. He disclosed that less than 600 clean energy mini-grids are operational which falls far short of the regional target of 60,000 clean energy mini-grids by 2020 and 128,000 mini-grids by 2030. He stressed the need to promote the deployment of clean mini-grids and stand-alone technologies to help increase and improve electricity access rate and appealed to partners and donors to collaborate with ECREEE to attain these objectives.