Supporting Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs in West Africa
With electricity demand on the rise across West Africa, renewable energy entrepreneurs are at the forefront of efforts to extend access to modern energy services. In renewable energy as in other sectors, private-sector entrepreneurs are often the best placed to identify local needs and create tailor-made solutions.
Such entrepreneurs, however, face serious challenges in the region. In most countries, the business environment needs to be more conducive to private investment, particularly in the power sector. Governments must establish appropriate institutional and regulatory frameworks, adopt enabling policies, and promote sustainable financing and business models for renewable energy.
Global and regional institutions intent on future energy sustainability, however, are working to address such challenges in the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS). The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) have established a support facility that provides advisory assistance to small and medium-sized renewable energy enterprises, particularly in the fast-growing field of solar photovoltaics (PV).
The ECOWAS Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility, based at the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, provides assistance with business management and operations, project proposal refinement, and other challenges, to help entrepreneurs bring innovative ideas to fruition. Regional renewable energy entrepreneurs can also turn to the new facility for assistance in capacity building and technology adaptation.
ECOWAS entrepreneurs at an IRENA-ECREEE workshop for supporting entrepreneurship and financing of renewable energy technologies in September 2013, 2iE campus, Ouagadougou-Burkina Faso
Around the world, nearly 1.3 billion people, mostly in Asia and Africa, are afflicted by energy poverty, while some 2.7 billion people in developing countries still rely on traditional three-stone fires for cooking, according to the International Energy Agency. Renewable energy entrepreneurship is crucial to develop sustainable, economical options to address these daunting energy access challenges.
The entrepreneurship support facility stems from an ECOWAS-IRENA initiative dubbed “ProSPER”, for “Promoting a Sustainable Market for Solar Photovoltaic Systems in the ECOWAS Region.” That project sought to strengthen the capacity of policy makers, regulators and utility representatives, trainers from a regional entrepreneurship incubation centre, and financial-institution managers to accelerate renewable energy deployment, with a specific focus on solar PV systems.
ECOWAS-based renewable energy entrepreneurs are invited to submit their requests for assistance by visiting the following link: http://cac.2ie-edu.org/lime123/index.php/569913/lang-fr The first window of
applications closes on 15 May 2015.