For successful renewable energy installations, there is a need for quality assurance at various levels. This includes quality assurance of equipment e.g. through the establishment and enforcement of product standards. However, high-quality products will only provide the desired services if renewable energy systems are designed, installed and maintained by highly qualified individuals.
Cognizant of this need, the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the International Renewable Energy Agency is in the process of establishing the ECOWAS Certification for Sustainable Energy Skills (ECSES) scheme recognized across the ECOWAS region. The aim of the scheme is to support the development of the market for renewable energy services by facilitating quality installations by technicians.
This will provide the possibility for practitioners to obtain a quality certification and credentialing that is recognized across all ECOWAS member states and promotes mobility of these professionals in the region. The need for certifying the skills is highlighted in several of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) developed by the member states. ECREEE is the designated regional certification body for the ECSES.
The scheme is being piloted for off-grid solar PV technicians with the first certification examinations planned to take place in early 2019 in Ghana and Senegal based on a jointly developed Job-Task-Analysis (JTA) covering the competencies pertaining to installation, maintenance, safety and basic design required of off-grid solar PV technicians.
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.
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 Partner Examination Centres. ECREEE has selected a network of partner training institutions and examination institutions to train and undertake examinations respectively on behalf of the ECSES scheme.
Persons who want to acquire these credentialing must meet all the requirements set by the scheme and pass the competency-based examinations that will be hosted by selected Partner Examination Centres (PEC) in each member state. Inexperienced persons that want to be certified will be trained in Partner Training Centres (PTC) selected by ECREEE.
The overall objective of the certification programme is to support the development of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) markets by improving the skills of practitioners through a regionally recognized certification scheme, which is to be based on the JTA for each target group and skills level.
ECREEE currently serving as the Certification Body is legally instituted through the ECOWAS Council of Ministers’ adoption of Regulation C/REG.23/11/08 is mandated to mainstream Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) of ECOWAS Vision 2020 into its regional activities and policies. In fulfilment of the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy, as per the 43rd ordinary session of the authority of heads of states of government, supplementary ACT A/SA.3/07/1, ECREEE is also to enable harmonization of among other things to harmonise tax and duty policies and common standards and regional quality labelling for equipment and systems as well as the certification of skills