On Monday, 21 January, 2013, the Commissioner for Human Development and Gender and representative of the ECOWAS President, Dr. Adrienne Diop and Mr. Paul Ejime, of the ECOWAS Communication department, paid a visit to the ECREEE Secretariat, in Praia, Cape Verde.

At the meeting, organized to welcome the presidential delegation, Mr. Mahama Kappiah, Executive Director of ECREEE, gave a brief presentation on the Centre, its progammes and activities. In his presentation, Mr. Kappiah noted that access rate to electricity in the ECOWAS region is the lowest in the world, with 52% of the population not having access to electricity and the poor spending more of their income on low quality energy services.

Mr. Kappiah stressed that energy is a primary driver of economic growth, without energy a nation cannot produce or develop. He added that without addressing the issues on energy access, poverty remains recycled in the system.

Noting the Centre’s role in the development of the recently adopted regional policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency, Mr. Kappiah explained that the aims of the Center were to solve the energy challenges in the region, while being mindful of the need to move towards sustainable economic development. He added that the targets set in these policies were well within reach for the member states.

The Executive Director further stated that the recently announced UN decade for SE4ALL, a recommendation made by the ECOWAS Energy Ministers at the ECREEE High Level Energy Forum in Accra, October 2012, presents an opportunity for the region to take purposeful strides towards accelerating deployment of sustainable energy infrastructure for cleaner energy services for the ECOWAS people.

The representative of the President, Dr. Diop, in agreement, admitted that renewable energy is indeed the way to the future. The Commissioner acknowledged that to achieve its mandate and to improve the energy access situation in the region, ECREEE will require support from both its technical and financial partners. Dr. Diop thanked the governments of Spain and Austria, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), for their invaluable contributions to the ECOWAS region, and congratulated the Centre for its remarkable achievement within two years, explaining that this was beyond expectation.

Dr. Diop was particularly pleased with the Centre’s efforts to mainstream gender in energy access, especially given that ECREEE had conducted training on gender and energy, where over 80 participants, mostly men from energy ministries in the ECOWAS region were trained. She expressed her interest to work with ECREEE, through her directorate, to ensure that health hazards associated with using low quality fuels were addressed in the region.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that an Energy Summit will be organized in the first quarter of 2014, with the aim to deliberate, at the highest political level in the ECOWAS region, the energy issues and steps to solving them.