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Practical Action regional office for West Africa officially launched

By Lola Akomatsri On 16.03.2020 FarmingFood & agriculturePractical Action Consulting

Practical Action officially launched its regional office for West Africa on Thursday, 05 March, 2020 in Dakar, Senegal

Running for the last five years, the West Africa office has successfully positioned itself as a key regional player by influencing the energy, agriculture and climate resilient sectors through advisory and consulting services. The launch ceremony was an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to key stakeholders and revitalize strategic partnerships. The office launch which was attended by Ms Amy Mina, Practical Action international Director and Chris Anderson, West Africa focal point and Chris Anderson, West Africa operation manager.

Group photo of attending officials of the West Africa office launch

Group photo of attending officials of the West Africa office launch

In his introductory speech, Mattia Vianello, the regional director welcomed Practical Action’s partners and supporters ranging from DFID Sahel office representatives, the government officials including the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the Ministry of Agriculture and rural rehabilitation, intergovernmental and development agencies, international NGOs and private sector representatives. “Our ambition is to help Senegal and other countries in the region achieve sustainable energy access by 2030, improve the livelihoods of small holder farmers and help people be more resilient to climate change.” said the regional director, while inviting like-minded partners to work hand-in-hand with Practical Action to maximize our impact and reduce poverty in the region. “It is only by working in partnership with others who share our values and ambitions that we can change the big picture” said Amy Mina, International Director of Practical Action.

DFID, which has been a long term supporter of Practical Action, took the opportunity to emphasize its renewed engagement and strategy in Africa, especially in the Sahel. “In 2018, 2 years ago, the UK government has a kind of rethink about its Africa strategy promising “a new partnership between the UK and the African continent, a strategy built around shared prosperity and shared security. So the new strategy is made up of five pillars including Improving security and stability as the essential foundations for people and prosperity, (ii) Mutual prosperity by unlocking inclusive economic growth in Africa, (iii) Investing in people: education, health and jobs, (iv) Climate change and sustainable natural resource management (v) Greater geographical focus to the Sahel. As we are pursuing common goals, DFID will continue to support effort in West Africa” explained Phil Outram, Climate, environmental and energy advisor for the DFID Sahel team.

Ensuring inclusive energy access, from village to nation

The West Africa regional office launch event was bundled with the of the Poor People’s Energy Outlook (PPEO) 2019 report launch as an opportunity to ensure buy-in and call to action energy government bodies, regional representatives of energy-related organizations and cooperation agencies.

Phil Outram from DFID Sahel office and Mattia Vianello, regional Director Practical Action West Africa

Phil Outram from DFID Sahel office and Mattia Vianello, regional Director Practical Action West Africa

With a total population of more than 340 million, West Africa has one of the lowest electricity consumption rates in the world. Of the 15 ECOWAS states, 9 of them have an electricity access rate of less than 20% in countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Burkina Faso. Figures that hide wide disparities in access between urban and rural areas. Large numbers of people, especially women – especially those on low incomes or living in rural areas – are at a greater disadvantage. There where the PPEO report comes in. This by demonstrating how integrated, community-driven and bottom-up energy planning approaches in order to deliver energy services can work for the energy-poor and guaranty transformational, inclusive and last mile delivery.

The 2019 Edition of the report is the culmination of five years’ research, exploring what it takes to realise the kinds of energy services that enable people living in energy poverty to thrive. The report compiles and updates key messages and recommendations on energy access planning (PPEO 2016), financing (PPEO 2017) and delivering at scale, while also leaving no one behind (PPEO 2018).

Geared to deliver impact in West Africa

Over the last 5 years, the West Africa office has been working towards the creation of a more favourable environment for rural population to access better energy and climate information services to boost their livelihoods and enhance the resilience to climate hazards.

We have focused on expanding our team and enhancing our capacity to deliver towards our two change ambitions regarding “energy that transforms” and “resilience that Protects”. This culminated in the delivery of consulting opportunities on energy policy option assessment, market development for decentralized energy systems, climate information services – all with a strong focus on agriculture-energy nexus approaches and energy in humanitarian responses.

Smallholder farmers with weak value chains and market environment, increase their income through productive use

2018 was a landmark year for Practical Action West Africa. The West Africa office which has been running since 2015 in Senegal stepped up efforts and improvement of performance management processes, and staff development to ensure alignment with the rest of the organization to achieve the change ambitions which were defined in 2017-18.

These efforts propelled the Senegal office to a fully-fledged regional office which will play a pivotal role in delivering impact through professional and consulting and knowledge-based services both in the core country of operation, Senegal, as well as the 15 ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) country members, plus the Sahel countries (Mauritania and Chad).