The ECOWAS Certification of Sustainable Energy Skills (ECSES) Body is a West Africa's foremost certification body established by all ECOWAS countries with the support of IRENA, GIZ and other partners to promote quality assurance at all levels and certify sustainable energy practitioners. All the structures and procedures of the ECSES scheme are aligned with the requirements of the standard ISO/IEC 17024:2012 and currently being administered by the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) in partnership with public and private institutions in the 15 ECOWAS countries.
The establishment of the ECSES scheme started with the development of the Job Task Analysis (JTA) for technicians of off-grid solar PV systems. The JTA was presented to stakeholders from seven UEMOA member states in a workshop organized in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso by IRENA and the UEMOA in April 2015. A second workshop was organized in July 2015 to present the draft JTA to representatives of the remaining ECOWAS member states and to gain their commitment for the regional certification program. These two workshops marked the start of national consultation processes with experts from all ECOWAS member states to review the content of the JTA. The results of these consultations were then integrated into the final French and English versions of the JTA for off-grid solar PV systems which were validated at a regional workshop with all 15 ECOWAS member states held in Praia, Cabo Verde in December 2015 and later translated into Portuguese. During this workshop, ECREEE confirmed its willingness to serve as the ECSES Body and participants from the ECOWAS member states suggested Technical Committee (TC) candidates to support the establishment and operation of the regional certification scheme. As such, between 2017 and 2018, ECREEE together with its partners developed the framework documents (Guidelines and working documents) for the Scheme and formed a Technical Committee with representatives from each of the 15 ECOWAS member states to serve as an advisory group to the ECSES Body and to be consulted at key stages of the implementation and further development of the ECSES scheme. The organs of the ECSES Body and model of operation the ECSES scheme are shown in figure 1.
Figure 1. Organisational structure of the ECSES Scheme.
The certification positively impacts:
- the candidate’s career through
- increased marketability, ECOWAS acknowledged training and certification;
- enhanced skills, reputation, credibility, & consumer confidence;
- mobility: the certification credentials that provides the “passport” to national and regional sustainable energy project, recognition and professional competitive advantage and job market in the ECOWAS region;
- the industry development through
- availability of competent and efficient workforce;
- increased credibility and confidence to the clean technology by the potential investors (better system performance and reduced risks);
- Satisfied customers (efficient installations, less technical failures, lower operational costs).
- By certification, there is a reassurance that practitioners have the competencies and capacities required to complete a job safely and effectively. More specifically, certification is a way to promote the quality and safety of systems installations. Also, certification requires (i) regular training that forces the practitioners to stay current, and (ii) work on multiple types of jobs, learn new skills and network with peers.
ECREEE has selected a network of partner training and examination centres to train and undertake examinations respectively on behalf of the ECSES scheme. Candidates that want to acquire these credentialing must meet all the requirements set by the ECSES scheme. The competencies of practitioners will be assessed through competency-based examinations which will be hosted by these partner examination centres. Experienced practitioners who want to obtain the regional certification can select and locate any of the approved examination centres in s/he country to register and undertake the examination. Inexperienced persons that want to be certified can be trained in partner training centres after which s/he can register with an approved examination institution to schedule for examination. The candidates that obtain the minimum pass mark of 80% in the practical examination and 70% in the written examination the after undertaking the regional exam shall be awarded the regional certification and professional identity. The process from training to certification and maintaining certification is illustrated in figure 2.
Figure 2. Training and certification processes.