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Fighting greenhouse gas emissions

Mar 19, 2015, 10:16 AM

The Gambia has been systematically promoting renewable energy over the years. And this endeavour, under a project known as GEF/UNIDO 4 Project in The Gambia, is being facilitated by strategic organisations and government institutions, such as Global Energy Facility (GEF), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Ministry of Energy (MOE), National Environmental Agency (NEA), Gambia Renewable Energy Centre (GREC), the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC).

Entitled “Promoting Renewable Energy Based Mini-Grids for Productive Uses in Rural Areas in The Gambia”, the project is financed through a GEF grant of US$ 2 million and a co-financing exceeding US 3.7 million from project developers, Government of The Gambia and other key partners. Thus the total project budget is “a little above US$5.7 million”.

“The project will result in avoided greenhouse gas emissions by developing and promoting a market environment that will stimulate investment in renewable energy technologies in The Gambia. This will, in turn, help drive green economic growth, support rural electrification efforts in the country and hence contribute to poverty reduction. At national level, the project continues to raise awareness on the applications and benefits of renewable energy technologies and other climate change mitigation activities in The Gambia,” a statement by the project facilitators said.

Renewable energy is especially important for The Gambia, like many other countries in the sub-region, for the country continues to be faced with enormous problems of energy provision because of total dependence on biomass and imported fossil fuels for power generation.

Dependence on biomass and imported fossil fuels for power generation is seriously affecting the country’s foreign exchange reserves, thus making it vulnerable to fluctuations in world oil prices.

It is also depriving a large percentage of the population access to energy, because power provision using fossil fuels is very cost-intensive and the ultimate price is paid by the consumers. The burden is also aggravated by the fact that electricity tariff is frequently growing costly.

A change is, therefore, needed in our energy sources and use, to meet the development challenge of the future.

The GEF/UNIDO Project in The Gambia has four components. Under Component 1, project grant is being given to support the development and implementation of a number of grid and off-grid renewable energy demonstration projects with high replication potential in various productive sectors in The Gambia.

Component 2 is dealing with strategy for scaling up of renewable energy investment in The Gambia under an initiative titled “Renewable energy and the private sector”.

Component 3 aims to strengthen Legal & Regulatory Framework for Renewable Energy Sector.

It expatiates: “The project provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Energy, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and NAWEC (the electricity utility) to prepare a Renewable Energy Law and a Standard Power Purchase Agreement for renewable energy with a clear Feed-in-Tariff (FIT). This component was funded and satisfactorily implemented by European Union Delegation to The Gambia and EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue facility (EU EI PDF). Today The Gambia can boast of being among a few countries in Africa with a Renewable Energy Act which was passed in December 2013.”

Under component 4, the project continues to build knowledge and in-depth technical capacity at key institutions such as the Ministry of Energy, Gambia Renewable Energy Centre. NAWEC and other private tertiary institutions as well as Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) and University of The Gambia so that “they are able to offer further trainings in renewable energy” beyond the GEF/UNIDO project.

These efforts and strides are laudable and need to be supported to achieve the project’s expected results and impacts as it tries to efface greenhouse gas emissions in our environment.

“Even if we didn’t have greenhouse gases, we are going to have to move away from fossil fuels, as we’re going to run out. They’re finite, whereas solar and wind are infinite.”

Ted Turner