The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) has reaffirmed its commitment to increase household access to electricity in the sub-region by 35 per cent through renewable energy sources by 2020.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that in order to achieve universal electricity access, mini-grids will have to provide around 40 per cent of new capacity by 2030 with the largest percentage needed in Sub-Sharan Africa.
The centre noted that at the moment, household energy access to electricity in the ECOWAS sub-region was below 50 per cent, which was among the lowest globally.
Executive Director, ECREEE, Mr Mahama Kappiah, made this known at a regional training for 17 renewable energy experts from English-speaking member states of the sub-region in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the regional policies developed by ECREEE were aimed at increasing renewable energy access to 35 per cent by 2020 and 48 per cent by 2030.
Kappiah said that the policies were adopted by the Heads of State and member states were engaged to develop national action plans.
According to him, “The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the region’s overall electricity mix to 35 per cent in 2020 48 per cent in 2030.
“The ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy aims to implement measures that would free 2,000 MW of power generation capacity.
“Following the adoption of these policies, the Heads of State engaged member states to develop their national action plans towards the attainment of the goals of these policies. Every member state has developed their national action plans,” he added.
He noted that, “Following that they (Heads of State) said every country should develop an investment prospectus, that is the investment requirement to meet this action plan that will take everybody to this target.”
He further said that 10 countries had developed their investment prospectus adding that the other five countries would conclude theirs by the end of 2017.
“Once all this is done, then we, together with member states will go on the fund mobilisation to look for ways to get funding to support one another and get these plans implemented,” he added.
He explained that the workshop for the 17 renewable energy entrepreneurs was part of the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility.
Kappiah added that the training would help participants develop project proposals, marketing strategies and learn how to access finances from banks.
Also speaking at the event, the Coordinator, ECOWAS Community Development Programme, Mr Guevera Yao, noted that accessing finances from the banks was a major challenge faced by entrepreneurs.
Yao said that the training would assist participants develop “bankable” projects.
“Bankable projects are those projects that really outline not just the technical aspect but the financial aspect specifically return on investment, risks involved, the mitigating factors and this is called a business plan.
“This is something that has been noted across the 15 member states; having a bankable project is so important to attract any financing,” he said.
Mrs Abimbola Odesanya, Environmental and Sustainability Officer for FCT and North, ECOBANK said that viable projects would be reviewed and the needs of the entrepreneurs would be taken consideration.
“We are here to offer our financial services; the aim of this training is to make sure the projects are bankable and there are some things the banks look out for before a project is financed.
“Most importantly is payment sources, we also look at customers’ cash flows to see if they can pay back; if the projects are viable and we see that they can repay the bank will be willing to partner.”
Odesanya said that ECOBANK was in partnership with the International Financial Cooperation and would use the feedback from the workshop to develop products favourable for entrepreneurs.
Also speaking, Mrs Safiatou Nouhou, Regional Programme Officer for Sub-Saharan Africa, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that the training would also address challenges faced by renewable energy entrepreneurs.
Nouhou said that the workshop provided a platform to better engage with and understand the needs the entrepreneurs.
“We believe that training workshops and advisory assistance provided to entrepreneurs are ways in which we can closely engage with local enterprises and address some of their technical challenges so we can see more bankable renewable energy projects.”