The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), in partnership with the African Development Bank Group, recently organised a workshop which was looking at women’s role in the energy transition.
Hosted at the AfDB’s headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire, the workshop was attended by energy experts, women entrepreneurs and government officials to discuss a bank-funded feasibility study on Business Opportunities for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa.
Konan N’Goran, director of renewable energy and energy management, presided over the official opening ceremony on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of petroleum, energy and renewable energy development, Thierry Tanoh.
N’Goran noted that: “Some countries around the world have been able to transform their energy sector into an export commodity, exporting technology and technical expertise to create immense value and wealth for themselves.”
N’Goran urged West African countries to take advantage of global transformation in the energy sector to create a niche for themselves in the global energy transition.
“Technological disruptions are happening rapidly and if it is true that necessity is the mother of invention, then our energy challenges should motivate us to create a niche in this ongoing transformation,” he said.
Women’s participation in the energy sector
He stressed that “an energy sector where women entrepreneurs make up just 2% of the population (as it is currently the case in West Africa) is not ideal.” Read more: ECREEE targets 35% electricity rise via renewables
Also speaking at the event, Ambassador of Spain to Côte d’Ivoire, Luis Covarrubias, noted that the regional initiative will facilitate participation of women in the energy sector as suppliers of modern energy services and solutions, and elevate them from predominantly being considered as mere consumers.
The director of the department of renewable energy and energy efficiency at the AfDB, Nakulima Osseynou, lauded the study, referring to it as “inclusive, pragmatic and relevant.”
He noted that “in addressing the energy and climate change challenges on the continent, Africa will need innovation. If women are involved in crafting the solution, the energy produced will be used in a more impactful way.”
According to the development bank, the regional workshop and the study are part of a larger project which seeks to develop a pipeline of investment-ready, women-owned energy businesses across the West African region.
New energy system
The project seeks to produce four country-focused feasibility studies of energy businesses that make the most of the global megatrends shaping the new energy system, of which the following businesses were identified through the pre-feasibility study:
- Liquefied petroleum gas businesses in Nigeria;
- Solar based electricity generation systems and solar lighting product distribution businesses in Ghana;
- Clean energy-powered mini and micro grid electricity generation and distribution businesses in Senegal;
- Smart applications for energy consumers in Côte d’Ivoire.
For each of the projects, the feasibility study will assess the possibility of replicating the projects in the other pilot countries.
The project is funded by the African Development Bank through the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, which supports African countries in the preparation of regional infrastructure projects in energy, transport, (ICT) and transboundary water.
Shem Simuyemba, NEPAD-IPPF’s division manager, said that the success of the ECREEE project will be determined by its ability to raise new funding for women-owned businesses at the end of the study.