Monday, December 10, 2012

Gambia: Energy Consumption ‘Increases Dramatically’

Njogu Bah
Gambia’s Minister for Presidential Affairs Dr. Njogu Bah has said that energy consumption in the Gambia has been increasing at a relatively fast rate due to population growth and economic development, even thought the base rate maybe to somewhat low.

His claim came amid increased electricity tariff and a power-supply social service experts said is unreliable, inefficient and unaffordable.

 He said the country’s energy use has increased dramatically, but was quick to admit that the country has also suffers from significant energy deficits, while speaking during a December 6, 2012 stakeholder’s validation forum on the “Development of Electricity Action Plan and Renewable Energy Law in The Gambia”, held at the Kairaba Beach hotel.

“With economy projected to grow at 5-6 percent (%) per annum, and rapid urbanization and improving standards of living for Gambian households, the demand for electricity is likely to grow significantly,” he said.
 Dr. Bah, who is also the Head of Civil Services, noted that clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy services are indispensable for the socio-economic development of The Gambia – the tiniest country in mainland Africa. 

The Gambia Government has already seen the need to expand access to reliable and modern energy services to reduce poverty and improve productivity, enhance competitions and promote economic growth.
The draft electricity strategy and action plan and the draft renewal energy for The Gambia - both funded by the European Union seeks to address the numerous energy problems the country is currently faced with.
The electricity strategy and action plan renewable energy law has been fully advanced and validated; hence, Dr. Bah said it would seek to establish a feed-in-tariff and a standardized private sector investment in renewable energy power generation.

 If enacted (made into law), Dr. Bah said it will set in motion an enabling environment and framework for promoting renewable energy based mini-grids for productive users in the rural areas of the Gambia  - which will be implemented under the Global Environment Facility, GEF and UNIDO Project. 

Governments are recognized as the most critical institutions in driving the renewable energy transition. But Dr. Bah lamented that there are unclear views on the most effective government policies and specific regulation instruments, limited chances prevail to evaluate realistically.

Whilst government is perceived as the key player and can facilitate business and investment climate through which producers and consumers are able to overcome the barriers that are currently faced, there is the need to achieve this by clear, consistent and long term policy framework supported by a strategy and also by a well-evaluated instrument. 

He then stressed that it is incumbent on the government, agencies, development partners and the private sector to work together to realize this initiative. 

Mrs. Agnes Guillaud EU- Charge d’ Affaires in The Gambia, noted that the design of the law and the strategy was proposed by the consultancy firm MERCADOS, and funded by the European Union energy initiative partnership dialogue facility, the EUEI-PDF. 

The Act will provide the legal framework for the Gambia for an efficient promotion of the use of renewable energy resources, she said, the current high dependency on fuel for The Gambia leads to several extremely negative consequences. 

“The cost of electricity is indexed to highly fluctuating price of fuel, limiting the financial capacities of stakeholders in the sector,” she added. “The extremely high price of electricity, due to the high price of fuel, means that most Gambians’ are unable to afford electricity.”

According to her, The Gambia has no choice but to be innovative in the renewable energy sector to make sure that the country’s population and businesses have access to an affordable, efficient and sustainable energy, necessary for the long-term development of the country – ranked among least developed countries in the world.

“The Government of The Gambia has for the last two decades been grappling with the twin problems of addressing the energy inadequacies and the provision of sustainable and affordable supply of electricity to users,” says Mr. Mod K. Ceesay, deputy permanent secretary Ministry of Finance and Economic Affair. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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