On 12 November 2007, ECOWAS organized a conference on peace and security in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The Ouagadougou Declaration highlighted the need for regional cooperation in various sectors. In the energy sector, the declaration articulated the need to establish the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The ECOWAS/UEMOA White Paper on access to energy services in rural and peri-urban areas expressed the need for such a regional agency already in 2006.  

The foundation for the Centre was laid with Regulation C/REG.23/11/08 of the 61st Session of ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on November 23, 2008. ECREEE is a specialized agency which acts as an independent body but within the legal, administrative and financial framework of ECOWAS rules and regulations.

End of 2009 the ECOWAS Commission established ECREEE with support of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Government of Cape Verde. In 2010 the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)became a major partner of ECREEE and the Brazilian Government pledged support for increased south-south cooperation in the field of bioenergy.

On 6 July 2010 the official inauguration of the ECREEE Secretariat took place. The event marked the completion of the six-month preparatory phase, the signing of the headquarters agreement, the nomination of the National Focal Institutions (NFIs), the constitution of the Executive Board and the official launch of the operational phase of the Centre.