ECOWAS Commission has gradually taken steps to mainstream RE&EE into its regional activities and policies. The experience of the European Union (EU) has shown that regional integration can be a useful tool to facilitate the adoption and implementation of RE&EE policies and incentive schemes on national levels (e.g. EU Directive with binding renewable energy targets).
The Ouagadougou Declaration, adopted at the ECOWAS Conference for Peace and Security on 12 November 2007 in Burkina Faso, articulated the need to establish a regional centre to promote RE&EE. At the conference, the Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs and UNIDO pledged support for the creation of such an agency. In 2008 the 61st Session of ECOWAS Council of Ministers adopted the regulation C/REG.23/11/08 and gave the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) a legal basis.
In 2010, the Secretariat of the Centre was established during a six-month preparatory phase in Praia, Cape Verde, with the support of the ECOWAS Commission and the Austrian and Spanish Governments, as well as technical assistance from UNIDO. ECREEE was formally inaugurated with a ceremony conducted by His Excellency José Maria Neves, Prime Minister of Cape Verde, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency James Gbeho, at its headquarters in Praia, Cape Verde, on 6 July 2010. In 2011 new funding commitments and pledges were received from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Brazil.
ECREEE’s mandate is also perfectly aligned with the broader strategic goals of ECOWAS Vision 2020. It seeks to realize directly two of the components of this vision, namely:
(1) ‘A region that anchors its development on sustainable development, including agricultural and mineral resource development strategy, and on planned agricultural and industrial strategies; a region that develops its infrastructure and makes services accessible to its citizens and enterprises.’
(2) ‘A region that conserves its environment and resources, promotes modes of equitable and sustainable development in economic, social and environmental fields; a region which brings its contribution to bear on resolution of the common problems and challenges confronting the planet.’