Training Workshop on the ECOWAS Integrated Biogas System Officially Opens

ECREEE – Praia Cape Verde, 17th June 2019 - The Regional Training workshop on the ECOWAS Integrated Biogas System officially opened today at Songhai Regional Centre, Porto Novo, Benin. The event is a two-week training event for 18 entrepreneurs from the ECOWAS Region to enhance their skills and capacities in building biogas systems that integrates aspects related to energy, health, social, agriculture and the environment.

The workshop is a continuation of the implementation of the ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy adopted by the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on the 4th June 2017. The ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy aims to promote the sustainable production, transformation and utilization of biomass resources (including bio-waste) for cooking, heating, power generation and transportation. It is part of the Capacity Building Activity for enhancing Bioenergy Service delivery with the objective of improving capacities of private sector operators (private sector actors/NGOs/individuals) for the ECOWAS member states.

The workshop was opened by the Director General of Energy of Benin – Mr.. Amine Kaffo. In his opening remarks, Mr. Kaffo reminded the participants about the heavy dependence of the population on woody biomass and its negative implication on the health of women and children, the forest, and the environment. He advised the participants to take full advantage of the opportunities since they have been selected through a competitive process out of over 70 applicants. It is important for them to transfer the experience and skills to their peers and colleagues at the end of the event.

Earlier, the Director of Training at the Songhai Regional Centre – Mr. Justin Lekoto, representing the Director General of Songhai, welcomed all the participants despite the challenges of travelling in our Region. He informed the participants that Biogas is green energy and reminded the participants that this year’s training would more practical.

The Principal Program Officer for Renewable Energy at ECREEE – Mr. Bah F. M. Saho, representing the Executive Director of ECREEE, informed the participants about the ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy and implementation Plan and hence the need for such trainings to enhance capacities of entrepreneurs in delivery Bioenergy Services to enable attain the Targets of the Regional Policy. He reiterated that giving the very high dependency of the Region on woody biomass that is often used unsustainably with negative consequences cited, it is important to increase information and knowledge sharing and capacity building activities  to contribute to the attainment of the SDGs. He reminded participants about the Strategic Plan of ECREEE 2017 – 2022, which aims to move from Power Points to Power Plants. This demonstrates that ECREEE activities is now focused on implementing projects on the ground. He also advised the participants to make best use of the facilities and knowledge being shared during the training period. 

In the technical sessions that followed, participants were taken on  practical visits to the respective sustainable Bioenergy technologies at the Centre for sustainable energy access. These include: biogas, pyrolysis/gasification, densification for pellets and briquettes, sustainable charcoal production, sustainable forest and wood energy management, and improved cookstoves. In each of these technologies, participants were given information on how a biogas is a circular economy with its benefit on the health, agriculture, social and the environment. This was followed by the information sharing with the participants on the ECOWAS Bioenergy Policy and also the ECOWAS Integrated Biogas System, the theme of this year’s training.

The training workshop continues and would include practical field visits and construction of a digester. The workshop is attended by 18 participants (14 from the other ECOWAS countries and 4 national participants).