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Joint ECOWAS-Energy Charter Regional Energy Governance Forum and Training Programme on Improving Energy Governance and Promoting Regional Cooperation in West Africa

On 15-25 November, the Energy Charter Secretariat and the ECOWAS Commission, Department of Energy and Mines, staged a joint Regional Energy Governance Forum and Training Programme in Cotonou, Republic of Benin in West Africa.

The workshop was run in hybrid format, with a group of some 30 core in-person participants, together with multiple contributions delivered by video conference. Thematic sessions focused on the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and process; ECT accession outlook of the ECOWAS member states and the pause on ECT accession; regional integration and cooperation; energy governance and investment outlook of the ECOWAS member states/country-by-country; renewables in the West African power sector; energy efficiency, heating and cooling; investment risk assessment and the energy outlook for the ECOWAS region through 2050. There were also site visits and a cultural program organized by the government of Benin.

The event was hosted by the government of Benin at a commensurately high level, in the name of the Minister of Energy (of Benin), the Hon. Dona Jean-Claude Houssou. The opening ceremony of the event on November 15 was graced by presence of the Hon. Armand Dakehoun, the Chief of the Cabinet of the Minister (rank Deputy Energy Minister); as well as senior representation from the ECOWAS Commission, (Department of Energy and Mines);  the Delegation of the EU in Benin; and officialdom from the Energy Charter Secretariat.

Participants in the workshop likewise included officials from the governments of seven ECOWAS member countries, and the specialized energy agencies created by ECOWAS to enhance regional cooperation and market integration in the sphere of the power sector, renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency. Substantial media coverage was accorded to the event in the local media.

Perhaps the main value added of the workshop was to facilitate dialogue between officials from ECOWAS member countries on their respective energy governance challenges, on the one hand, and dialogue between ECOWAS members and the ECOWAS energy agencies, on the other. The workshop also allowed three ‘advanced stage’ ECOWAS member countries currently in ECT accession (ie, Nigeria, Gambia and Senegal) to raise questions about the ‘pause’ on ECT accession as well as about Modernisation of the Treaty. The three countries reinforced their interest in continuing with their accession track to the Treaty once the pause is lifted, and all raised the question of when an end to the pause policy could be expected.

ECOWAS, or the Economic Community of West African States, is comprised of 15 member countries. It was established to foster the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member states. As a trading union, it is also meant to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. Seven ECOWAS member countries (Benin, The Gambia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone) are Observers to the Energy Charter Conference, having signed the International Energy Charter Declaration.