Governments across the developing world have identified ensuring universal access to electricity as a major policy goal. Despite this focus on increasing electricity access, more than one billion people globally do not have access to electricity. A large majority, (80% by IEA estimates) of those without access to electricity and modern energy services are based in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries in Asia. In West Africa, the World Bank estimates that in 2012 almost 165 million people did not have access to electricity and more than 80% of those without electricity access were based in rural areas. Similarly, more than 265 million people across the region are dependent on solid fuels, usually biomass based, to meet their cooking and heating needs. They use rudimentary and polluting cookstoves which contributes to health issues and environmental degradation. Most of this segment of the population is also based in rural areas.
The workshop aims to address the following main questions:
- What are the major barriers to improving energy access for remote rural communities in West Africa?
- How can public, private and multilateral investment and actions complement each other to support energy access projects aimed at off-grid rural communities?
- How can local community participation improve sustainability of off-grid energy programmes?
- How can improved energy access increase opportunities for gainful employment, improved productivity and new businesses in remote rural communities?
This workshop will be a three day-long event and will involve 50 to 60 participants from across the region. It is envisaged that the workshop will be of special interest to relevant stakeholders such as: academics and researchers, rural service providers including entrepreneurs and agencies, NGOs, donors (multilateral and bilateral), community representatives, regulators and policy makers.
The organisers will draw on the insights and debate generated during the workshop to inform the drafting of a detailed report. This report will be distributed to stakeholders through the network of the Smart Villages Initiative (SVI) in developing countries as well as at multilateral forums including the European Union and the United Nations. It will also feed into the final report on the regional engagement of the SVI in West Africa.