The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) strives to help its Member countries formulate long-term capacity-building responses that can be integrated into national policies and processes. As the leading advocate of renewable energy across the world, IRENA is in a unique position to accelerate and sustain renewable energy in industrialised and developing countries. It fulfils this role by acting as the global voice for the industry and the main port of call for developing countries seeking advice, as well as by providing an information and network hub for national, regional and global programmes. In recent months, IRENA has held consultations with Member countries to ensure it better responds to their needs.
In April 2015, IRENA and ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) established an ECOWAS Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility, the aim of which is to provide “mentorship” support and advisory assistance to small and medium-sized renewable energy (particularly Solar PV) entrepreneurs on matters related to technical issues (system sizing, installation guidelines, etc.), business management and operations, and project proposal refinement, as well as supporting entrepreneurs to successfully bring their innovative ideas to fruition. The Facility is based at the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In July 2015, the Facility was expanded using funding from the Luxembourg Government and a second component is now housed at the Centre for Renewable Energy and Industrial Maintenance (CERMI) in Praia, Cabo Verde. The Facility has a Technical and a Steering Committee; the Technical Committee evaluates applications for assistance submitted by ECOWAS-based entrepreneurs, while the Steering Committee provides direction and assesses the quality of work undertaken. Both committees are made up of funding organisations, regional NGOs, financial institutions and representatives from regional associations for solar entrepreneurs.
Following the successful implementation of the Facility programme in the ECOWAS region, IRENA together with the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency launched the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility in April 2017.