Report on the WAI-ECREEE Workshop on Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency, 14th to 16th July, 2014, in Praia, Cabo Verde

IMG 1579The workshop on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency development in West Africa took place on14th -16th July, 2014, in Praia, Cabo Verde. Held at the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the event brought together experts from the fields of climate change, renewable energy financing, renewable energy projects development, policy developers, researchers and practitioners from West Africa and Europe.

Mr. John Yeboah, junior project officer at ECREEE, is writing a proposal to support a long-term collaboration between the West Africa Institute (WAI) and the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE). Jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) WAI, and ECREEE, the workshop enabled Mr. Yeboah to identify research topics in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency, providing the contextual basis of the need for research in the identified areas. In line with the terms of reference, the experts supported Mr. Yeboah to collate information that will ensure that the proposal has sound theoretical foundation.

Among the experts were:

•    Mr. Jonathan Quartey (Department of Economics, KNUST, Ghana),
•    Dr. Adebayo Agbejule (Dep’t of Mechanical and Production Engineering, Vaasa University of Applied Sciences),
•    Prof. Dr. Yao Azoumah (2ie, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso),
•    Charlotte King (Cross-Border Information, UK),
•    Dr. Mrs. Rose Mensah-Kutin (ABANTU for Development, Ghana),
•    Dr. Emmanuel Ndzibah (Department of Industrial Management, Univ. of Vaasa).
•    Mr. Hyacinth Elayo (Policy Analyst-ECREEE),
•    Ms. Karin Reiss (SE4ALL Expert UNIDO-ECREEE).
•    Mr. Hannes Bauer, (ECREEE)
•    Mr. Ibrahim Soumaila (ECREEE)
•    Mr. Nicola Bugatti (ECREEE)

Others present were:

•    Mr. John Yeboah, the Fellow who hosted the workshop,
•    Mr. Daniel Yeboah,  WAI contact person, and
•    Mr. Ablam Benjamin Akoutou, who moderated the workshop for 2 days.

IMG 1560The hugely successful Workshop was opened by Mr. Bah F.M. Saho, Renewable Energy expert at ECREEE, who read the opening address on behalf of the Executive Director of ECREEE, Mr. Mahama Kappiah. Mr. Saho said that the Director General of ECREEE is solidly behind the collaboration, convinced that there is the need for scientific research to support ECREEE’s activities to ensure that Renewable Energy provides the solution to Africa’s energy problems. Prof. Djeneba Traore, Director General of WAI, giving the keynote address, underlined the significant role of scientific research for policy formulation and the obvious need for building bridges between researchers and practitioners. Thus, the collaboration between WAI and ECREEE will be profitable for the two parties. She also pointed out that ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy, established in 2012, reflected a strong will of the institution to develop the economy of the member States, and to improve the leaving conditions of ECOWAS citizens, through the promotion and effective use of renewable energy.

Explaining the rational for the workshop, Mr. Daniel Yeboah stated that though WAI and ECREEE have different mandates, they are bound by a common objective of improving the welfare of the people of West Africa. Coupled with their physical proximity, the need for collaboration between the two institutes becomes an imperative and not an option.

The first thematic area addressed the topic “Renewable Energy, Policy Formulation, Environment and Climate Change.” The various presentations and discussions that followed highlighted the fact that, RE and EE is a new discipline, without the so-called best practices to copy, and that regions need to borrow from one another’s experiences. Again, it was the opinion of the experts that, though researchers are divided on the impact of RE and EE policies on Climate change mitigation, there is the need for concerted efforts to promote RE and EE to address the impact of the use fossil fuel on third parties (negative externalities). The experts also discussed the dearth of research on the capacity needs of stakeholders at different levels of the value chain in RE. This calls for research that gives respect to regional, and possibly local context, determining the right energy mix, how to address feed tariff regimes how to better manage data on RE with respect to documentation, archiving, accessibility, retrieval, etc.

The second thematic area focused on “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency use: Barriers, Gender and Socio-Economic Issues.” Here, the need to assess the centrality of women in the crafting and implementation of RE policies was emphasized. This should address the question of what women want from RE and EE programs (gender and energy), what they need them for, in what quantities, what role they can play at various stages to promote RE and EE? It also proposed research into how to use RE and EE to resolve rural electrification problems, using GIZ analysis? To ensure the understanding, acceptability and use of RE and EE, the experts advocated for the introduction of research aimed at integrating RE into the educational curriculum of the sub-regional.

Three of the experts arrived two days earlier and the remaining three, one day earlier, to meet with the fellow, Mr. John Yeboah, for fine-tuning of the agenda, coordination and facilitation, as well as to further learn about the role they were expected to play at the workshop.

At the meeting with the fellow to fine tune the research topics, the experts agreed that the about 14 topics identified should be grouped into four or five main thematic areas covering tariff regimes, supply chain models, capacity building, gender mainstreaming and grid technology development. The experts promised to continue to work in their various capacities to strengthen the collaboration and to foster the established network for the development and use of RE and EE in the sub-region.

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