Promoting Sustainable Bio-energy Service Delivery ECREEE Conducts Study tour of Integrated Biogas Systems in Rural Senegal

ECREEE, Dakar – Senegal, 31st August 2021 – The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), recently organised a capacity building programme on sustainable bioenergy service delivery. The training held in Senegal from the 30th August – 1st September 2021, comprised of a study tour of the sub-regional bloc’s integrated biogas systems in rural Senegal preceded by a workshop to exchange ideas and experiences on the country’s national biogas programme. The two-day event targeted representatives of the private sector, NGOs and Civil Society organizations from the ECOWAS member states.

Reports have shown that most of the people in the ECOWAS region still rely on solid biomass as cooking fuel, often used in a traditional and unsustainable manner. In several countries in the region, biomass based fuels (wood fuel and charcoal) represent more than 90% of the household energy needs especially in rural and peri-urban areas.

The ECOWAS Integrated Biogas Program is a circular economy that takes into consideration the economic, social, and environmental factors in the design of a biogas plant. Thus, this event supported by the Austrian Development Cooperation seeks to uphold sustainable management and utilisation of biomass resources as enshrined in the ECOWAS Bio-energy policy and the West Africa Clean Cooking Alliance’s Regional Action Plan. The activity is the continuation of the training workshop on the ECOWAS Integrated Biogas System of ECREEE, organized by the Centre from June 17 to 28, 2019 at the Songhaï Center in Porto Novo, Benin for the private sector, NGOs and the Civil Society Organizations of ECOWAS Member States.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a one-day workshop, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy of Senegal, Mr. Adama Diallo, underscored the importance of the study-tour to the overall objective of the ECOWAS Integrated Biogas Program.  Mr. Diallo stressed the need to provide households with clean cooking energy solutions as well as responds to the dual challenge of preserving forest resources and women’s health.

He also informed delegates that President Macky SALL, of Senegal has made universal access to energy services a priority objective, with quality and at the lowest cost while respecting the principles of social and environmental acceptability.

Mr. Diallo therefore noted that the promotion of alternative energies is an important measure on the mitigation aspect adding the reason why from 2009, Senegal set up a National Domestic Biogas Program that is currently a founding member of the Alliance for Biodigesters in West and Central Africa.

In his keynote address, the Acting Executive Director of ECREEE, Mr. Bah F.M. Saho described the initiative as essential and relevant saying “the ECOWAS Region continues to face issues associated with access to sustainable energy services in spite of its abundant renewable energy resources, including biomass”. He added that the capacity building programmes were coined within the context of the ECOWAS Bio-energy Policy adopted by the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Monrovia, Liberia in June 2017.

As the Sub-region continues to be characterized by low access to skills and technical capacity for many of its stakeholders in the Bioenergy sector, Mr. Saho therefore stressed the need to equip ECOWAS citizens, especially the entrepreneurs with relevant skills and knowledge that will enable them to effectively utilize available biomass resources and further transform them into useful substances such as energy and bio-fertilizer while reducing the harmful impacts of cooking on the environment.

ECREEE Boss acknowledged that fuel wood will continue to be used for a long time to come in our region because of its availability. However, he warned that its availability should not be the reason for not exploring sustainable energy options citing health and environmental hazards associated with its traditional use.

According to ECREEE officials, if the ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy is to be implemented successfully to achieve the targets set in the policy document, stakeholders across the entire value chain would have to be adequately trained to take the challenges of providing sustainable Bioenergy Services to the Populations. As such, the workshop sensitized participants on the ECOWAS Integrated Biogas System, modern and appropriate sustainable Biomass management and utilization, as well as biogas technology and project planning and financing.