The energy system in the ECOWAS region is characterized by low access rates to electricity services, which are mainly generated from thermal sources, and unsustainable biomass production and use. Traditional biomass use (firewood and charcoal) accounts for almost 80% of total energy consumption. The unsustainable production, transformation, and consumption of energy resources result in greenhouse gas emissions, smoke-related health issues, deforestation, and desertification, leading to environmental degradation.  

The ECOWAS region holds immense potential in wood resources, agricultural, animal, and industrial waste that could serve as an energy source to fulfill cooking, heating, and electricity requirements. However, despite the potential, these resources are often underutilized and unsustainable due to a lack of adequate policy frameworks, information, knowledge, and investment opportunities.  

In response to these challenges, ECREEE has developed a Regional Bioenergy Strategy Framework and Policy to decrease the heavy dependence of increasing populations on traditional biomass usage. The ECOWAS Bioenergy Strategy was approved in 2012 by the ECOWAS Ministers of Energy in Accra, Ghana. 

According to the bioenergy strategy framework, the ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy and its strategy for implementation were developed by ECREEE and adopted by the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government on June 4, 2017, in Monrovia, Liberia.

The ECOWAS Bioenergy Program aims to improve access to energy services in line with regional policy objectives through the sustainable production, transformation and use of biomass resources. This includes the use of agro-industrial and municipal wastes. The program advocates the adoption of efficient equipment and devices for biomass resources and promotes the use of various forms of biomass, such as woody biomass, derivatives, agricultural products, and non-food, non-feed, or non-fiber residues, as well as bio-waste from industrial processes related to animals, plants, or trees. These resources can be converted into solid, liquid or gaseous products to produce clean, efficient and sustainable energy. 

In addition, the program aims to facilitate the transition from inefficient and unsustainable use of biomass resources to the sustainable production, transformation, and use of renewable biomass for cooking, heating, and power generation to meet the energy needs of the West African population. 

The ECOWAS Bioenergy Program is aligned with the Regional Bioenergy Policy Implementation Strategy. The projects and activities of the ECOWAS Bioenergy Program are based on the following key pillars: 

  • Policy support to strengthen local governance
    Activities include, but not limited to: 

    • Develop national bioenergy action plans; 
    • Identify and develop pragmatic policy instruments that promote rural development, gender equality, and sustainable agriculture at national level. 
    • Establish national/regional targets and timetables for bioenergy development, to include issues of small-scale farmers. 
    • Establish legal and regulatory frameworks, including standards and labels for bioenergy service components (fuels, equipment and devices) at the national level to accelerate bioenergy development. 
    • Establish clear guiding principles for land use and land tenure. 
  • Capacity building and technology transfer
    Capacity building activities in ECOWAS include, among others to: 

    • Enhance capacity of policymakers in integrating bioenergy into national development strategies, which are cross-cutting. 
    • Strengthen enterprises to source, integrate, install, operate, maintain, and service bioenergy systems; provide business training and incubation support. 
    • Train policymakers on policies and programs for accelerating the adoption of bioenergy by smallholders. 
    • Support the financing and banking sectors to understand the risks/rewards of financing bioenergy projects and structuring appropriate financial products. 
    • Provide training and technical assistance on project assessment tools and standards for bioenergy development, 
  • Knowledge management, communication and awareness raising: 
    • Strengthen processes for data collection, analysis, and availability. 
    • Gathering case studies highlighting good and bad practices. 
    • Establishing a platform to share experiences on policies, markets, technologies, costs, business models, applications, finance sources, standards and certification, etc. 
    • Conduct sensitization and awareness creation campaigns for wider dissemination of sustainable bioenergy practices to achieve the transitioning to its sustainable production and utilization; and 
    • Conduct research on current/potential biomass supply and demand value chains. 
  • Environment, land tenure, and social equity: 
    • Evaluate and identify suitable areas for agricultural expansion for bioenergy feedstock production and forest concessions to manage land transactions and sustainability of biomass crop or fuel production.  
    • promote and adapt GBEP sustainability Indicators to the local conditions. 
  •  Financing mechanisms and resource mobilization: 
    • Engage local/national, regional and international financial institutions and micro-credit agencies to finance bioenergy services. 
    • Establish risk mitigation facilities to stimulate local financing of bioenergy projects, particularly at the small-scale level. 
    • Foster development of “bankable” project portfolios in bioenergy; offer assistance to entrepreneurs in areas such as R&D, seed capital funding, pre-feasibility and feasibility assistance, reimbursable grants, etc. 
    • Explore opportunities for carbon (including Global Climate Fund, REDD+ and NAMAs development) and innovative finance instruments at the national/regional levels.  
    • Establish an ECOWAS Sustainable Bioenergy Regional Facility to provide grants and loans for bioenergy projects. 

The completed, ongoing, and under preparation activities are as follows:

  • Completed 
    • Adoption of a regional Bioenergy policy and implementation plan 
    • Supported the development and validation of National Bioenergy Action Plans (NBEAP) for Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Mali and Guinea, Sierra Leone  
    • Capacities enhanced in Bioenergy Service delivery 2018, 2019, 2020 in Porto Novo, Benin 
    • Feasibility study for the installation of 04 biomass gasification plants for the production of electricity based on renewable energies for the benefit of the energy mix in Benin. 
  • Ongoing 
    • Supported the development and validation of National bioenergy Action Plans (NBEAP) for Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Cabo Verde  
    • Development of ECOWAS standards of bioethanol for transportation and cooking 
  • Under Preparation 
    • Access to clean cooking solution through integrated biogas technology approach in West Africa. 
    • Technical Assistance support for Waste to Energy projects development in West Africa region. 

  • Universal access to clean, safe and affordable cooking energy by 2030. 
  • Increase the Biodiesel and bioethanol as share of fossil fuels consumption to 10% by 2030.  
  • 2008 MW of installed capacity of Electricity from biomass in the region  (13% of RE Capacity) by 2030. 


Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions, and Tourism of Austria


Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves


United Nations Foundation


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)


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