The largest sustainable energy gathering in the West African region has opened at the Kempinski Hotel Gold City in Accra, Ghana. The meeting is organised under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) on the theme “Achieving Sustainable Energy Targets in Ecowas Member States”.
The three-day forum brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from within and outside the region. These included state ministers and directors of energy, especially those responsible for renewable energy, as well as representatives of private sector companies, financial institutions, academia, civil society and development partners and donors.
It would be recalled that the Ecowas Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF) was instituted in 2017 by the Ecowas Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) to support the investment and policy initiatives of member states in the regional renewable energy sector.
The opening ceremony of the 3RD Edition of ESEF was presided over by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Dr Mahamudu Bawumia who stressed the urgent need for right investments into the electricity sector with special focus on the rural population. He said that a lot has been done to better the standards of living in our region but noted that these collective efforts are not good enough as key poverty and other socio-economic indicators continue to paint a gloomy picture about the region.
Vice President Bawumia therefore called for the removal of institutional impediments and the provision of right infrastructure and systems needed for development in a bid to lift our people out of poverty. He commended the Ecowas Commission and ECREEE for their leadership and commitment towards ensuring the attainment of regional energy integration on a sustainable basis. The Vice President also commended ECREEE for its contributions in the development of the region’s sustainable energy action plans as well as the technical assistance provided in the areas of policy, regulatory reforms and project development.
Speaking on the occasion, the Ecowas Commissioner for Energy and Mines, Sediko Douka expressed gratitude to all the donor partners who contributed immensely to the hosting of the forum. Commissioner Douka told delegates that ECOWAS is committed to the attainment of sustainable energy targets in a bid to uplift the living standards of the population. He also noted that off-grid is the only solution to provide electricity to the rural population at affordable cost.
In delivering the welcome address on behalf of Ghana Minister of Energy, the deputy Minister Mr. William Owuraku Aidoo described the forum as very important and timely for improving the policy and regulatory landscape for private sector investment. He urged delegates to put more emphasis on sustainable solutions that could help to create jobs, alleviate poverty and stimulate economic growth in the sub-region.
In his goodwill message to delegates, UNIDO Country Representative, Fakhruddin Azizi noted that a rapid and fundamental transition is needed in the realisation of sustainable energy solutions in the Ecowas region. He said that UNIDO is very much pleased to be part of the crusade of achieving these goals.
The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Diana Acconcia underscored the importance of renewable energy in the fight against climate change and poverty noting that EU is committed to support ECREEE in the realisation of their target objectives.
The Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, Alicia Rico Perez del Pulgar said the West Africa region faces enormous challenges in the area of energy access, noting that the role of ECREEE is very crucial in achieving sustainable energy market in the region while the US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S Sullivan said the forum offers a unique opportunity for delegates to come out with solutions to the regions energy challenges.
In welcoming delegates, the executive director of ECREEE, Mr Mahama Kappiah said (ESEF) is an annual forum that provides a platform for Ecowas Member states to assess progress made at national and regional levels towards achieving the 2020/2030 sustainable energy targets. Mr Kappiah told delegates that the establishment of a robust partnership is urgently needed to attract major investment in the region. He also called for the redoubling of efforts towards the creation of an enabling environment in a bid to ensuring increased private sector participation.
As part of the forum, an international exhibition was also organised showcasing products and services involving actors across the sustainable energy value chain.