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Energy Access Solutions Advance Gender Mainstreaming in West African States

Under a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Africa partnership, NREL contributed its expertise to an innovative policy that not only supports women in energy, but also helps bring clean energy access to remote populations across West Africa.

Photo of a black woman in an orange dress holding a piece of white paper that says: "Je #Standtall"

Through the Clean Energy Solutions Center (CESC), an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, NREL and Power Africa partnered with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to develop the policy and a directive that provides a legal framework for implementing it.

Strategic objectives of the policy—called the ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access—include:

  • Ensuring that all energy policies, programs, and initiatives are non-discriminatory, gender-inclusive, gender-balanced and directed towards addressing energy poverty differentially affecting women and men in the region.
  • Increasing women's public sector participation in energy-related technical fields and decision-making positions to a level of at least 25% in the medium term and 50% in the long term.
  • Ensuring women and men have equal access and opportunities to enter and succeed in energy-related fields in the private sector.
  • Establishing and maintaining a comprehensive monitoring and accountability framework.


Expanding energy access in underdeveloped countries provides jobs and generates income for economic growth and poverty eradication. It also can provide women with an equal opportunity to enter and succeed in energy-related fields. Because ECOWAS is rich in clean energy resources—including biomass, wind, and solar—distributed renewable energy solutions have significant potential to both address the region's energy access challenges and empower women socially and economically—two priorities that are central to Power Africa's mission.

Key Partners




Andrea Watson