On March 18, partners from the EURICA project organized the International Energy Stakeholder Roundtable to stimulate discussions on the present and future state of energy in West Africa. Among the main discussion topics were the crucial themes of digitalization, women and solar energy. Taking place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and online, the event brought together steakeholders from the energy world, but also social sciences experts and civil society representatives to discuss some of the most pressing issues related to energy access and the current global energy crisis.
The International Energy Actors Round Table is the result of a unique partnership between the ‘Association des Jeunes Acteurs de l’Energie’ (Association of Young Energy Stakeholders) and EURICA. It also forms a grassroots event that brings together academics, policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders in the field of energy poverty, access and justice across the world.
Digitalisation was one of the core topics of the round table. As digital technologies represent a range of solutions to meet energy needs, Charles Bazie, R. Romuald Ouedraogo and Malick Lingani spoke about greater integration of renewables to anticipating outages and grid instability, as well as better allocation of resources to different users. This is particularly critical in the African context, where energy needs exceed availability. By optimising energy, investment and grid reinforcement and by empowering consumers, digital technology is emerging as a critical lever to meet human, economic and ecological needs.
The event was also the occasion to discuss solar energy. Africa is home to 60% of the best solar resources globally, yet only 1% of installed solar PV capacity according to the IEA. Led by moderator Adélaïde Inès Nanema, Energy Engineer at TotalEnergies and leading experts, the discussion invited Amadou Diallo Energy and Finance Engineer, to talk about investing in solar projects and how funding sources can be combined to ensure their success. Cheick Fofana,from ITAOUA d a unique perspective on the use of solar energy in rural Africa and Ange Sebego, Head of Regulatory Affairs at the Directorate General for Energy Transition in Burkina Faso, discussed government policies and initiatives to encourage the use of solar energy in Africa.
The third key theme of the round table was gender. The presence of women and girls in engineering professions is heavily weighed down by gender stereotypes and cultural constraints, creating a glass ceiling that limits their opportunities. However, achieving better representation of women in all levels of engineering is crucial for meeting climate, economic, and human objectives. Experts in the field, including Sara Bagre from IRSAT, Adélaïde Inès Nanema from TotalEnergies, Fatoumata Diallo, Amandine Gal from MWE – Mozambique Women of Energy, Norbert Kindadoussi, and Abdul Raouf Soandamba Coulidiati , discussed exciting projects related to clean energy and energy innovations in Africa, highlighting the importance of including women’s perspectives in decision-making processes.
By fostering collaboration and sharing knowledge and best practices, the event helped to build momentum towards a more sustainable and equitable energy system. The LEAP-RE portfolio of projects was well represented during the event, with projects EURICA, LEOPARD, PURAMS and SETaDISMA introducing their work towards a better and greater access to energy throughout the African continent. The event has been the opportunity for the projects to reinforce the key role of the LEAP-RE programme in fighting climate change and fostering access to sustainable energy by establishing a research and innovation community on renewable energy between Europe and Africa.