The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) has been awarded a grant of US$ 1 Million for its project on “Feasibility Study on Business Opportunities for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa”. Funded by AfDB, NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, the Project aims to advance women’s role as producers and suppliers of energy services in West Africa.
From 27 February to 3 March 2017, delegates of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Infrastructure Project Preparatory Facility (IPPF) were at the ECREEE Secretariat in Praia, Cabo Verde to launch the regional project on “Feasibility Study on Business Opportunities for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa”.
The workshop to launch the project was aimed at establishing the operational framework for the successful implementation of the project, particularly as it concerns its ability to deliver on its objective of ensuring that the region meets its goal of universal energy access through the deployment of sustainable energy solutions, with women playing a more prominent role.
The AfDB-NEPAD-ECOWAS project aims to increase women participation in the energy sector through an innovative approach that transforms the green energy revolution in the sector into market opportunities targeting women entrepreneurs. According to Dana Elhassan, Senior Gender Officer with the AfDB, "This project will place West African women entrepreneurs on the map in terms of reaching universal access to energy by 2030".
Furthermore, regional integration is key on the agenda. The project will promote regional integration as it will produce a high quality, gender-responsive, regional energy market investment strategy that taps into the innate entrepreneurial capacity of ECOWAS women. Victoria Flattau, NEPAD-IPPF Infrastructure Officer, emphasized the importance of promoting regional integration through the project saying that “These feasibility studies funded by NEPAD-IPPF will equip entrepreneurs with bankable energy projects to bolster regional integration in West Africa".
On specifics, the project will focus on regional energy infrastructure development and business opportunities for 16 women businesses in 4 countries in the ECOWAS region and identify opportunities in the underfinanced small to medium business sectors in order to achieve domestic and regional roadmaps that would encourage economic growth in the ECOWAS region.
Mahama Kappiah, the Executive Directive of ECREEE, closed the workshop noting that this feasibility study project will serve as evidence that women owning energy businesses in Africa is a possibility, which will in turn impact positively on advancing the women’s economic empowerment agenda, while contributing to Africa’s economic development.
The regional project on Feasibility Study on Business Opportunities for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa is a product of the ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access which aims to, among others, increase women participation in energy-related fields in the private sector by 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2030.