The Third Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (Rogep) under the Ecowas community has opened in the Togolese capital Lome.
The two-day forum is bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders in the energy sector from 19 project countries mainly from Ecowas member states and the Sahel.
Being organised under the theme ‘Strengthening Partnership for an Accelerated Deployment of Stand-alone Solar Systems in West Africa and the Sahel’, the confab marks the lunch of the implementation phase of Rogep, which was approved by the World Bank on 17 April, 2019.
Rogep project was designed to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and communities using modern stand-alone solar systems (such as solar lanterns, solar home systems, solar water pumps, solar mills, and solar sewing machines) through a harmonised regional approach.
The Togolese minister of energy and mines, Marc Ably Bidamon, represented by his director of energy, Dr Tchapo Akassewa Singo, underscored the importance of energy security in member countries noting that provision of energy services will help to spur sustainable development, growth, and job creation.
He therefore urged participants to take the conference seriously and come up with workable recommendations for effective implementation phase.
The World Bank country representative Ms Hawa Wague pointed out that access to electricity is central to any development program and that the Bank is committed to collaborate with Ecowas to implement the Rogep project.
This, she said, will help to make a big change in the lives of ordinary citizens in the countries covered by the project.
Also speaking on the occasion, the special adviser to the president of West African Development Bank (BOAD), Christophe Agueggy informed participants that the Rogep project will promote renewable energy in areas not covered by the national grid.
Speaking earlier, the executive director of ECREEE, Mr Mahama Kappiah, reminded participants that the objective of Rogep is to eradicate poverty through the development of a viable business ecosystem for the rapid deployment of stand-alone solar systems in the project countries. ECREEE boss disclosed that Rogep also seeks to provide financial support to entrepreneurs in this line of business, and reduce risk to businesses that embark on these new technologies and business models.
Mr Kappiah also informed development partners that ECREEE has the capacity and the team to take on more of such projects and therefore appealed for partnership to improve access to energy services in the Ecowas region and the Sahel.
Rogep was launched to focus on supporting and developing viable business ecosystems in the project countries through a regional-level initiative.
In a bid to develop a regional market, the project will identify policy barriers affecting the growth of the stand-alone solar market.
The ultimate project beneficiaries will be the people currently living without access to electricity connection or living with unreliable electricity supply within the 19 Rogep countries and the project has an ambitious target of providing electricity services to about 1.7 million people of which about half would be female.