2019 ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum

By Lola Akomatsri On 12.11.2019 Food & agricultureEnergy

Key leaders in West Africa praise our approach to energy access.

Practical Action West Africa had the pleasure of attending the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF) that was held from 22 to 24 October, 2019 in Accra – Ghana. The ESEF2019 was the stepping stone to showcase how our ingenious market-based approaches and bold collaborations are changing the energy access narrative for both smallholder farmers and refugees before West Africa’s top of energy decision-makers, industry practitioners and innovators.

Under the patronage of the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, the forum focused on the theme ‘Achieving Sustainable Energy Targets in ECOWAS.

 Powering Agricultural Value chains to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.

In a panel discussion on “Innovative Business Models for Powering Value-Chains: nexi between off-grid renewable energy and productive uses of energy”, Mattia Vianello presented Practical Action global and regional experience, to discuss unlocking off-grid energy markets and opportunities that deliver both commercial viability for the private sector and better livelihoods for smallholder farmers.

Moderated by H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma, Special Envoy of the President of Burkina Faso, Resource Mobilization for SDG’s and Climate Change, panelists just as Mattia Vianello agreed that sustainable energy must power income-generating activities and fuel entrepreneurship that work for low income households especially in rural areas.

At Practical Action, we do this using our ingenious participatory approach to market systems by demonstrating new business models and in­tegrating sustainable energy in agriculture value chains, which are financially viable and replicable at larger scale in West Africa.

“Our flagship programme, the Renewable Energy for Agricultural Livelihoods in West Africa- REAL, combines the assessment of the demand for renewable energy and energy efficiency along agriculture value chains with an assessment of the available energy solutions or innovations” explains Mattia Vianello. This approach enables the key stakeholders to find the connection points between the value chain needs and the energy offers as well as to identify where and how these can combine to generate positive financial, social and environmental outcomes for the value chain as a whole, and for small scale, family farmers in particular. In Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, we’re working with smallholder farmers, energy suppliers and local authorities to make sure that sustainable energy is available to the people who need it most.

To achieve impact and change at scale, it is crucial to decision-makers and energy innovators to adopt an inclusive market-based and bottom up approach in energy planning a win-win way of ensure last mile delivery to energy-poor people. This also includes Refugees who have little or no access to reliable and affordable energy.

Rethinking energy access for displaced people.

The ongoing conflicts in the region have forced more than 2.6 million people to flee Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Mali, creating a large number of refugees across the West Africa region.

Mattia Vianello made a keynote speech explaining why there is an urgent need to include energy services in humanitarian planning as a key enabler for displaced people to escape poverty.

Practical Action’s market-based and innovative delivery models aims to enable a paradigm shift from purely in-kind aid to inclusive energy market systems in West Africa.

In Burkina Faso, we worked with Chatham House, Energy4Impact, UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council on the Moving Energy Initiative (MEI), to meet the energy needs of displaced people in a safe, sustainable manner, developing solutions for heating/cooling, cooking, lighting, electrification and water and sanitation. This innovate project has improve the life of refugees from Goudoubo camp by empowering refugees with energy services and businesses. With the support, private sectors can develop viable markets whilst actively involving refugees and local communities in the adoption, distribution and maintenance of sustainable energy products.

About the ESEF2019:

The ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF) is organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) in collaboration with the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) and GET.invest.

This year’s event was attended by Ministers, directors and high-level delegates of energy and utilities from the 15 ECOWAS member states will participate in the discussions, in addition to key partners such as USAID, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, West African Development Bank, GIZ, UNIDO, IRENA and many more.