A new report developed by REN21 with lead authorship from the Worldwatch Institute concludes that renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies have rapidly become cost effective solutions for overcoming the diverse energy challenges facing the ECOWAS region.

ECOECOWASWAS includes the West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Key conclusions find the region’s use of solar PV technology is limited largely to distributed and off-grid functions. Senegal leads with installed capacity of 21 MW, followed by Nigeria with 20 MW and Niger with 4 MW.

Meanwhile, regional new investment in renewable power and fuels from six leading ECOWAS Member States (Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) was US$29.7 million in 2013, down significantly from the peak of $370 million in 2011. Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, and Sierra Leone are regional leaders in the contribution of renewables to their final energy consumption – at 30.3%, 22.4%, and 19%, respectively, in early 2014-largely as a result of their use of modern biomass.

Alexander Ochs, Director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Program noted: ‘While we are witnessing important projects throughout the region, most ECOWAS countries are just starting to make use of the enormous renewable energy potentials at their doorsteps – and on their roofs, too.’