Participants from 11 out of 15 ECOWAS countries discussed and developed ideas on how to increase civil society influence in West African energy policy development and implementation.
The workshop was organized by the Alliance of Civil Society Organizations for Clean Energy Access (ACCESS), a global coalition of local, national and international CSO that advocate for access to safe, reliable and affordable energy for people living in poverty. The coalition aims to strengthen the visibility and presence of CSOs working to deliver universal energy access, particularly within Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll), Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) implementation and other global energy initiatives.
In West Africa, there are several organizations and ACCESS members focusing on energy access however, in terms of advocacy in the region there has been very little concerted effort. This workshop was a first step to streamline efforts and strengthen CSO engagement and advocacy for sustainable energy access in order to address energy poverty in West Africa.
SNV, participated in this event in its capacity as member of the ACCESS coalition, and as implementer of the DGIS funded strategic partnership programme Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) in Burkina Faso and Ghana. Energy experts Dramani Bukari from SNV Ghana and Martin van Dam from SNV Burkina were amongst the participants. A number of international NGOs such as Practical Action, Care, GERES and OXFAM and around 20 national CSOs from West-African countries were in attendance including three partners from the V4CP programme, (CEAS from Burkina and GHACCO and CEESD from Ghana).
The objective of the Burkina team was to network and to provide information about the CSO coalition for the promotion of renewable energy (CNPDER) in Burkina Faso and their objective which is to advocate for improved access to quality renewable energy services for Burkinabè households. This objective was met as ACCESS selected this topic as a regional advocacy theme along with, among others, gender inclusion in renewable energy policies and harmonized standards.
We were informed that the Ghana government achieved an electrification rate of 80% in 2016. A number that astonished participants from all other participating countries, who have access rates of between 30% and 40% on average. It provided enough motivation though to push governments, to raise funds, and to develop the (clean/renewable) energy sector for the whole West African region.
There is still a long way to go, and funding for follow-up on this workshop still has to be raised by the ACCESS coalition. But the connections have been made and experiences have been exchanged during the workshop sessions. It’s now up to the West African CSOs to build on this in their actions and activities on the road to achieving universal energy access.