Media experts have reaffirmed the need for a network of Journalists from ECOWAS Member States to cover the activities of the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).

Emerging from a 2-day capacity building workshop of ECOWAS Member States’ journalists which ended in Dakar, on Thursday, 23rd June, 2016, participants recommended the setting up of a network to cater for the information need of Community citizens on renewable energy and related issues.

According to the participants, journalists trained by ECREEE should make the network inclusive by setting up mini-networks in Member States so as to have an extensive coverage of renewable energy issues.

Additionally, the participants called for the establishment of an online newsletter which will be devoted to publishing articles on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency with the collaboration of experts. The trainees also urged the ECOWAS Commission and ECREEE to produce short documentaries on Renewable Energy in key local languages to cater for citizens who cannot read and write the official languages.

Expressing their delight at the laudable initiative of the Executive Director of ECREEE, Mr. Mahama Kappiah and the ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Communication, Mrs. Sandra Oulate F. Elleingand to train journalists on Renewable Energy, participants urged the directors to facilitate the training of the remaining journalists from other countries who are scheduled to benefit from the second round of the workshop.

In his remarks, a Renewable Energy media expert Mr. Djimingue Nanasta, shared his experience in reporting issues relating to renewable energy and then encouraged participants to embrace and deepen their knowledge in the sector.  He told trainees that since renewable energy is becoming a topical issue in the region, when widely covered, it will bring favorable behavioral changes as well as play an important role in the region’s economic development.

During his presentation at the workshop, the Programme Coordinator of the ECREEE’s West Africa Clean Cooking Alliance (WACCA-ECREEE), Mr. Sire Diallo, told participants that actors across the value-chain must ultimately address the barriers preventing a viable market for clean cooking technologies in order to accelerate access to sustainable cooking energy.

Mr. Diallo informed participants that the regional initiate is poised to bring about the required transformation despite the slow response to interventions in order to achieve the objectives of the region. Consequently, he urged ECOWAS Member countries to own the process.

Mr. Yuri Handem, another Renewable Energy expert, during his presentation enlightened participants on the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship, a network which provides entrepreneurs information on Renewable energy funds established in 2015 by ECREEE in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), ZIE and the Centre for European Research in Microfinance (CERMI) and co-funded by IRENA and the government of Luxemburg.

Mr. Handem explained the benefits of the entrepreneurship as an accelerator for development and improvement of ECOWAS Renewable Energy entrepreneurs as well as a provider for free mentorship and training on business and technical related subjects which assists entrepreneurs in working their project proposals bankable.

Similarly, Mr. Sylla Elhadji, a Programme Officer with ECREEE presented key programmes focusing on the ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policies adopted in 2013 by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. Mr. Sylla explained that the objectives of ECREEE policies, among others, is to ensure that 100% of ECOWAS population have access to efficient, sustainable and modern cooking fuels and equipment by 2030.

Mr. Joarel Barros on behalf of the Communication Unit of ECREEE, presented some aspects of ECREEE’s 2015 – 2020 Communication Strategy, highlighting the important role journalists play in the dissemination of information and sensitizing the populace and then stressed the need for them to widely share the renewable energy news.

Participant visited the Senegalese Solar Energy Plant in Diamniadio, situated on the outskirt of Dakar.

The second round of the workshop will hold in Praia in November 2016.