West Africa

Staff Biography


Our People

In West Africa we provide quality, efficient and effective consulting services by combining expertise of our regional team, on the experiences of over 500 regional Practical Action staff and on our global network of over 1000 associates.  Our West Africa team is made of a mix of international and regional experts. Meet some of our top experts!

Mattia VIANELLO, Regional Director
10 Years’ Experience

Mattia leads the advisory and consulting teams working on decentralized energy services, agriculture and climate information services in West Africa.  He is a member of PA global Strategic Leadership Team and head of the organization global Energy Change Hub.

Mattia has extensive experience in access to energy, having worked over the last 10 years in consulting assignments and projects in Africa, Latin America and South Asia for a variety of international clients, donors, NGOs and the private sector.

Previously Mattia worked as Global Energy Advisor (based in Kenya and UK) supporting the private sector and decision-makers to demonstrate the viability of mini-grids, solar products and clean-cooking for last mile population and displacement contexts.

He holds an MSc in Science and Technology Policy and Management from the University of Edinburgh and a Philosophy degree from Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan.

Areas of expertise:

  • Energy access in development and humanitarian contexts
  • Development of Inclusive market systems ;
  • Design and management of research and projects on energy access

Pape Idrissa DIENE, Junior Resilience Advisor

Pape Idrissa Diene joined Practical Action West Africa in March 2020, as a Junior Communication Adviser. He is currently working on the new project to extend the reach and impact of the Flood Resilience Portal to francophone West Africa in collaboration with Practical Action UK as part of their role in the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (ZFRA). He is also working on the development of Practical Action climate resilience work in the region including carrying out research and consultancy work and facilitating joint working with Practical Action’s other regional and country offices in Africa and UK.

He holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics (sustainable development) from the Center for Studies and Research on International Development (CERDI) of the Clermont Auvergne University (UCA-France)

Areas of expertise:

  • Climate resilience and flood risk management
  • Statistics and Econometrics
  • Methods and tools for data collection and analysis

Caroline Heidtmann, Senior Energy Advisor
10 Years’ Experience

Caroline Heidtmann joined Practical Action West Africa in October 2019, as the Senior Energy Adviser. She is an environmental engineer with 10 years of experience in energy access. Caroline started her career at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy and worked for GIZ in Mali and Burundi, and worked as free-lance energy consultant in Uganda and Kenya. She holds dual German and French nationality.


Areas of expertise:

  • Energy access in development and humanitarian contexts
  • Development of Inclusive market systems
  • Design and management of research and projects  on energy access

Cheikh MBODJI, Junior Energy Advisor

Cheikh Ahmadou Mbodji joined our West Africa in September 2019. He has two years of experience as a renewable energy engineer. Prior to joining Practical Action, Cheikh has worked in two consulting firms as study engineer on feasibility of different renewable energy projects in West Africa.

Cheikh holds a Master’s degree in Renewable Energies from Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis-Senegal (U.G.B). He is also pursuing his PhD on the gasification of crop residues for electricity production.

Areas of expertise:

  • Feasibility study of energy projects
  • PV systems sizing and energy audits
  • Energy recovery from solid waste

Mary ALLEN, Agriculture and Livelihoods Senior Advisor
30 Years’ Experience

Mary Allen is our Senior Agriculture and Livelihood Advisor, witha long story of collaborative work with the organization.  Co-ordinator of Practical Action for West Africa from October 2013, she opened the Dakar office and successfully developed the portfolio of contracts before handing the baton to the first Regional Director for West Africa in early 2018.

In her current position, she leads our work to minimize the impact of climate related hazards, such as floods and droughts, on vulnerable people’s livelihoods. She also works as key expert on a range of contracts for international clients in the energy and agriculture sectors.

Areas of expertise:

  • Design and management of Projects on resilient agriculture and sustainable livelihoods, natural resource management
  • Participatory methods for action-research,  M&E and learning

Hamet Aly SOW, Livelihoods and Market Advisor
20 Years’ Experience

Hamet Aly SOW joined Practical Action West Africa in November 2018, as the regional Livelihood and Market Advisor. Hamet is a rural development professional and began his career as a researcher at the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA). Hamet is leading the work portfolio on the nexus between agriculture and energy.

Prior to joining Practical Action, Hamet, worked as a program officer at the Senegalese Association for the Promotion of Development at the Ground Level – ASPRODEB, for more than ten years. He has gained a sound knowledge of farmer-based organizations and challenges facing smallholders in Senegal and West Africa. Hamet holds a PHD in soil microbiology from the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar.

Areas of expertise:

  • Agricultural value chains analysis and market development
  • Environmental and social assessment
  • Capacity building of professional farmer-based organizations

Soda DIOP, Finance and Admin Manager
12 Years’ Experience

Soda Diop is the Finance and Admin Manager for West Africa since early 2018. She has more than 10 years of professional experience in NGOs. Prior to joining Practical Action, she first worked at TrustAfrica between 2007 and 2012 as a Senior Accountant. She then joined Save The Children International from November 2012 to April 2018 where she held the position of Regional Office Financial Officer. Soda has extensive experience in overseeing financial operations, ensuring financial compliances and also in the implementation and monitoring of financial controls and procedures for large regional programs with international donors.
Soda Diop holds a Master’s degree in Audit and Management Control from the Management Institute of Dakar, Senegal- ISM.

Areas of expertise:

  • Audit and Management Control
  • Contract auditing
  • Financial controls and procedures for large regional programs

Lola AKOMATSRI, Communications Officer
10 Years’ Experience

Lola Akomatsri joined Practical Action in March 2019. After more than 8 years in journalism in Togo and Benin, Lola AKOMATSRI joined the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development – CORAF in 2015 as Communication Assistant where she coordinated the communication strategy of several sub-regional agricultural development and research projects including the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) in 13 countries and financed by the World Bank.
Lola AKOMATSRI holds a Master’s degree in Marketing and Communication Management, a journalism certification from the Poynter Institute of Journalism in Florida (USA) and a specialization in Business and Entrepreneurship from Northwestern University (Illinois, USA).

Areas of expertise:

  • Communication for development and behavioural Change
  • Knowledge management
  • Capitalization of experience