The ECOWAS Energy Protocol: Training workshop for member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union

This workshop focused on enhancing participants' knowledge of the ECOWAS Energy Protocol, its risks in relation to energy transition policies, and potential options for—and challenges associated with—reform.

December 8, 2021 8:30 am - December 9, 2021 1:00 pm West Africa Time


The West African Economic and Monetary Union—also known as L'Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA)—is an organization of eight West African countries established to enhance economic integration in the region. It is committed to promoting sustainable investments that contribute to the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Investment protection and promotion measures are important tools used by UEMOA member states to attract foreign direct investment. However, they do not come without challenges. This workshop focused on enhancing UEMOA member states’ knowledge of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Energy Protocol, which was negotiated in 2003 as a means to promote investment in the energy sector and enhance trade in West Africa.

The ECOWAS Energy Protocol is—in effect—a sectoral investment treaty inspired by the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). And like the ECT, it is part of an older generation of investment treaties that are now widely criticized for emphasizing the private interests of investors at the expense of public interests in the host state and sustainable development objectives. In response to these concerns, the international investment regime is undergoing reform at the global, continental, regional, and national levels.

The main objectives of this workshop were to provide participants with an opportunity to learn about and discuss:

  • The content of the ECOWAS Energy Protocol
  • The main risks raised by its various clauses in relation to states’ adoption and implementation of energy transition policies
  • Its interaction with the ECT and the problems it could pose 
  • The challenges of ongoing reform processes at the global level, including those related to the modernization of the ECT
  • Potential options for reform.

This workshop was one of several regional workshops on investment treaties organized each year by UEMOA and IISD as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions.