ACCRA, The Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will hold a series of regional meetings in Accra from June 20 to June 27 to pave the way for the provision of sustainable electricity services in West Africa and the Sahel.

The meetings are a follow-up of activities embarked upon by the centre under its Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) which seeks to provide reliable electricity services through standalone solar systems for 19 countries in the ECOWAS and Sahel sub-regions.

The ultimate goal of the ROGEP, which draws funding from the World Bank, is to ensure that peoples in the economic bloc have access to dependable energy supply, to transform lives.

The centre is involved in an aggressive effort to provide electricity access, recognizing that without availability of modern energy sources, countries in the broader West Africa region, including the Sahel, will be trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, social instability and under-development.

These factors tend to hinder the implementation of regional strategies aimed at fostering socio-economic development, attracting foreign investment and providing basic social services for citizens in the region.

The Accra meetings will begin on June 20 with a four-day training workshop which will bring together entrepreneurs from the 19 targeted countries, to strengthen their skills on pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) business models in order to achieve higher uptake in rural areas.

The activities will continue on June 25, with a networking side-event to promote private sector involvement and cross-fertilization between local small and medium enterprises and international companies with the focus on harnessing private sector participation in standalone and off-grid electrification and facilitating partnership and business development.

More than 30 companies from all the ECOWAS member states, as well as from Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa Republic (CAR) will participate in the event.

On June 26 and June 27, the second regional validation workshop will take place under the auspices of the centre. It will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from all the ECOWAS member states, and from Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon and the CAR.