The ECOWAS Centre for Regional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) received a grant of USD 1,000,000 from the African Development Bank, through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility Special Fund (NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund), to implement a project entitled: ‘Feasibility study on business opportunities for women in a changing energy value chain in West Africa’.
The project seeks to ensure that the region meets its goal of universal energy access for its over 300 million people, by developing a high quality, gender responsive, regional energy market development strategy that taps into the innate entrepreneurial capacity of ECOWAS women. Through development of bankable feasibility studies, the project seeks to harness this capacity towards increasing the establishment of energy businesses and deployment of energy technologies to meet the energy needs of the region’s mostly unserved population.
In line with this, a prefeasibility study was conducted, focusing on Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, as pilot countries. The study identified four country-specific energy businesses that make the most of the global megatrends shaping the new energy system and present a comparative advantage for women entrepreneur. These are: liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) businesses in Nigeria; solar based electricity generation systems and solar lighting product distribution businesses in Ghana; clean energy powered mini and micro grid electricity generation and distribution businesses in Senegal; smart applications for energy consumers in Cote d’Ivoire. For each of these country-specific businesses, the feasibility study will assess the possibility of them being replicated in the other three pilot countries.
The prefeasibility study and its recommendations were validated during a regional workshop held on 13 April 2018, at the AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The workshop brought together over 60 participants of whom were mainly West African female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the energy sector. The Executive Director of ECREEE, Mr Mahama Kappiah, noted that with many women entrepreneurs running their businesses using their own equity or low-level borrowing from lenders, unlocking investment to enable them upscale productivity and performance definitely holds great promises for the region’s economic development and the health and vibrancy of its power sector.
Following this workshop, ECREEE launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) for consultancy services towards the feasibility study. A total of 25 regional and international firms responded to the call, out of which 6 firms were shortlisted, namely:
1) Dalberg (Senegal)
2) Ernest and Young (Nigeria)
3) KPMG (Nigeria)
4) Lion’s Head (United Kingdom)
5) Rina (Italy)
6) Tetra Tech (United States of America)
From the shortlisted firms, ECREEE and its partners will select the firm that most adequately demonstrates the technical capacity to meet the objectives of the Terms of Reference of the Feasibility Study.
The Feasibility Study is meant to deliver four separate studies, which will be presented in a single document. The ultimate goal of the study is to present businesses that can qualify for credit approval from banks, funds and others. The assignment will therefore involve an in-depth analysis of product or service profile; supply and value chain margins; competition analysis; business model analysis; organizational capabilities and structure; CAPEX investments; as well as legal regulatory, technological and financial complexities for setting up and running these businesses. Furthermore, the study will be oriented towards gender mainstreaming, accessing the potential for women entrepreneurs to be engaged across the entire supply chain of the four businesses. It will also take into consideration the need for women’s engagement during the stakeholder consultation phase of the business development and other areas where applicable.
The Feasibility Study will be completed over a period of eight (8) months, after which an investment forum will be organized, where these businesses will be presented to foreign and local investors. The investment forum is slated for October 2019.
The project on ‘Feasibility Study on Business Opportunities for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa’ is a product of the ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access, a regional policy adopted at the 51st Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Monrovia, Liberia, on the 4th of June 2017. The policy aims to address barriers to the equal participation of men and women in the expansion of energy access in the ECOWAS region. The Feasibility Study project specifically contributes to the policy’s target to increase women’s participation in energy-related fields in the private sector by 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2030.