The ECOWAS’ Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) Regional training workshop to reinforce the knowledge and skills of entrepreneurs in the economic Bloc opened in Accra on Wednesday.
The four-day event, geared towards creating the enabling environment for the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region, brought together some 40 entrepreneurs from across the ECOWAS and beyond.
The ECREEE has over the past year, in the framework of its Entrepreneurship Support Facility under the institution’s Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) aimed at providing access to reliable electricity through standalone solar systems for 19 countries in the ECOWAS and Sahel regions, including Central African Republic and Cameroon, been organising series of events to facilitate that vision.
The workshop, with support from the World Bank, is part of a series of initiatives expected to ultimately translate to improved livelihood conditions of the inhabitants of these regions, empowering men and women as they experience the positive impacts of accessing reliable energy services.
The training would expose the entrepreneurs selected, based on evidence of activities related to the training, to ROGEP’s pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) solar technologies business models in order to achieve higher uptake in rural areas when the implementation stage of the first Phase of the project takes off in January, 2019.
The participants of the training have been selected based on their evidence of activities related to the subject of the training.
Mr Mahama Kappiah, ECREEE’s Executive Director who addressed the participants at the opening noted that though the efforts of ECOWAS and its partners to facilitate greater access to sustainable energy services of the region’s population remained low, a major progress was being achieved with the ROGEP project.
According to him, the low penetration rate of sustainable energy services in the region was as a result of the interrelated challenges of extreme poverty, under-development, vulnerability to climate change and gender inequities.
‘The ECREEE Executive Director was of the opinion that to tilt the balance in favour of sustainable energy, there ought be a paradigm shift that involved all stakeholders especially the private sector, whose role was paramount in ensuring access to sustainable electricity to households, public institutions and SMEs in off-grid areas.
Thus, the training, he said would address the lack of capacity, both technical and financial, that had hampered the effective involvement of local entrepreneurs in providing energy services to off-grid communities.
The training would also provide participants with a solid knowledge on last-mile distribution of pay-as-you-go off grid stand-alone solar PV; the technical language associated with the industry and development and financing of PAYGO businesses.
“Last-mile distribution represents a tremendous opportunity to positively impact the world’s poorest and most underserved communities. The scope of this training is to give the necessary tools to local entrepreneurs to capitalize on this opportunity. It is expected that the training will provide strategies and know-how that can be immediately and effectively implemented by the entrepreneurs,” Mr Kappiah said.
The ROGEP project, planned to be implemented over a six-year period, with funding from the World Bank and other partners, would see the utilisation of some 600 million Dollars over project cycle.
The training programmes forms part of the planning stages of the first phase of the project. The project would be executed in three phases.
As a follow up to the training, ECREEE has scheduled two other events aimed at removing the barriers to a viable regional energy market, as well as mitigating factors that hindering the implementation of regional strategies aimed at fostering socio-economic development, attracting foreign investment and providing basic social services for citizens of the region.
The activities include a Business-to-Business networking event to be held on June 25, 2018 in Accra. The forum is expected to offer a unique platform to promote private sector involvement and cross-fertilization between local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and international companies.
The event would focus on harnessing private sector participation in standalone and off-grid electrification as well as facilitating partnership and business development. More than 30 local companies from all the ECOWAS member states, Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa Republic will participate in the event.
Then on June 26 and June 27, 2018, ECREE’s second regional workshop on the ROGEP would take place also in Accra.
It would bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from all the ECOWAS member states in addition to Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa Republic.
Following the successful launch of the ROGEP project at the first regional workshop held in Dakar, Senegal in October 2017, the second workshop would apprise participants with the current status of preparation of the project and preliminary findings of the regional markets assessment