A high percentage of the West African population lives in remote rural areas without access to modern energy services. Clean energy mini-grids (CEMGs) have been identified as essential to helping achieve universal electricity access in the region and they feature as important parts of national targets and renewable energy action plans for all ECOWAS (Economic Community
of West African States) countries. It is estimated that mini-grids and standalone systems will be needed to supply electricity to 25% of the ECOWAS region’s population. Therefore, ECOWAS states aim to build 128, 000 CEMGs by 2030 to supply power to about 107 million of their
citizens. Considerable effort will be required to ensure that the operating environment is conducive to the set up and operation of CEMGs across the ECOWAS region in order to
achieve this target.
To shed light on the status of energy access and particularly the role of CEMGs in reaching the underserved, the Smart Villages Initiative (SVI), in collaboration with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and the European Union Energy Initiative
Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEI PDF), held a workshop titled ‘High-level workshop on energy
access in West Africa’. Held in March 2017, this served as a kick-off event to a wider capacity-building engagement on CEMGs in the ECOWAS region and provided insights into the challenges faced by ECOWAS countries with regards to CEMGs. The Smart Villages Initiative also used the workshop as an opportunity to share, reflect on, and refine the conclusions and recommendations from its West Africa regional engagement programme.