AfDB hosts workshop to develop ECOWAS Gender and Energy Policy

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The African Development Bank (AfDB), the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), and the United States-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have formed a partnership centered on linking gender and energy access.

The three have jointly organised an inception workshop to launch a project about developing an ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access and its Implementation Strategy. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. “AfDB’s role is grounded in its Energy Policy, which advocates for ‘universal access to energy,’ said Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender.

Participants include Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for Family, Women and Children, AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, and the Executive Director of ECREEE. Representatives from the respective Ministries of Energy of the ECOWAS member states, partner institutions of ECREEE and other stakeholders will also be present.

The project aims at establishing a regional policy and its implementation strategy that will support the region’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies. It will also enhance the Sustainable Energy for All’s (SE4ALL) initiative of achieving the goals of universal access to modern energy services.

Gender equality will be an integral component of the project, which will further promote inclusive growth within the ECOWAS member states. The policy and its implementation strategy are being developed by ECREEE and the ECOWAS Department of Social Affairs and Gender with the assistance of NREL.

The ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access, the first of its kind globally, aims at addressing barriers that hinder the participation of women in energy access. It will ensure that women make both intellectual and business-wise contributions to ending the region’s energy crises. Women comprise up 50 percent of the region’s population and 43 percent of the ECOWAS labour force.

“The policy will enhance the capacity of women and girls to benefit from the region’s energy interventions,” observed Moleketi. It will focus on engendering various decision-making processes which directly and indirectly affect the energy sector in and across ECOWAS member states.

By serving as a member of the Technical Advisory Group, AfDB will provide strategic guidance on the project based on its vast experiences in mainstreaming gender into its operations. The Bank also has wide knowledge in financing energy investments and advocating for energy policy dialogue and reforms.

Over the years, AfDB has made extensive investments in the energy sector across the ECOWAS region. Between 1998 and 2014, the Bank approved 40 energy operations (energy projects and/or programs) through its public and private sector financing windows in the region valued at US $1.45 billion.

AfDB’s support for the development of the ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access and its implementation framework is also rooted in its Gender Strategy 2014-2018, as the project is heavily centered on leveraging infrastructure for gender equality.