Enhancing Capacities of Utilities in the ECOWAS region

An increasing number of utilities in the ECOWAS region are facing the situation that a growing number of small, medium and utility scale systems with variable renewable energy (vRE) generation from wind or solar PV are either being developed or in the pipeline. Thanks to the declining cost of RE Technologies, especially Solar PV, vRE based power generation is becoming cost competitive when compared to conventional generation and therefore an increasing number of project are being considered in the region. However, vRE projects also come with some challenges due to the variability of the solar and wind resources, that can be nonetheless alleviated.

It is therefore timely to build capacity on grid integration of vRE within the utilities of the ECOWAS member states both at the management and on the technical level. This topic was identified as one of the ten strategic intervention areas of the ECOWAS RE and EE Capacity Building Strategy and Programm. Furthermore, this topic was also identified as a priority topic for capacity building of the staff of the regional Centres of Excellence (CoE) in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in a recent study conducted by the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Thus, ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the West African Power Pool (WAPP) with the technical and financial support of GIZ and USAID are planning to jointly organize Anglophone and Francophone trainings on vRE grid integration for the personnel of utilities from all ECOWAS member states, and work towards the introduction of this specialized training into the training offers of the Volta River Authority Academy (VRA Academy) in Akuse, Ghana and Centre des Métiers de l’Electricité (CME) in Bingerville, Cote d’Ivoire.

Within this framework, a training of trainers at CME was organised from the 10th to the 15th of April and was followed with a 5-day training course for representatives of Francophone utilities at CME in Côte d’Ivoire from the 17th to the 21st of April 2017. This has allowed the trainers to have a firsthand experience of delivering the training with the support of the international trainers and also exchange with the staff of utilities some of whom have received training on the same topics.

The same approach is being replicated at the VRA Academy in Akuse, Ghana where a Training of Trainers is schedule for the week of April 24th and will be followed by a 5 day training course for the Anglophone utilities of the region.

At the end of the training both CME and VRA Academy will be in a position to offer this specialised training to various stakeholders in the region interested in the topic.