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Gambia’s off-grid solar market assessment validated

Oct 18, 2019, 1:43 PM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

(Wednesday 16th October 2019 Issue)

Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Tuesday validated the off-grid solar market assessment report of The Gambia, as part of the preparatory phase of the Regional Off-grid Electrification Project (ROGEP).

The project is funded by World Bank and Clean Technology Fund and implemented by the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) together with West African Development Bank.

ROGEP is supporting The Gambia and 18 other countries in West Africa and the Sahel, to accelerate the development of standalone solar PV systems in off-grid areas to increase electricity access by stimulating both public and private sector investments in rural electrification.

The objective of the study is to access the market for off-grid solar systems and recommend the most realistic market-based mechanism(s) that will lead to scaling up access using solar technologies by the private sector.

In her opening statement on behalf of the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Rohey Bittaye-Darboe, Permanent Secretary said energy has long played, and continues to play a strategic role in the growth and functioning of the world’s economy.

She described access to electricity as a prerequisite for the establishment of new businesses and the expansion of existing ones, providing the platform for employment creation, social development and economic growth.

“The availability of reliable, affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly electricity supply is one of the cornerstones of The Gambia Government development aspirations for the energy sector,” she stated, adding that in keeping with the global energy transition towards renewable energy systems, the government is committed to promoting the use of off-grid solutions including standalone home systems as a necessary vehicle to provide electricity access to those communities beyond the reach of the grid.

According to her, as part of their strategy for universal electricity access, The Gambia government has set a target to connect one-third of the rural population through off-grid solutions by 2030, which include mini-grids and standalone home systems, but she was quick to add that this target could not be readily achieved without establishing the right market conditions, putting in place an effective quality assurance framework and developing financial support and de-risking mechanisms for the private sector.

Sire Abdoul Diallo, ECREEE representative said it is important to understand the framework conditions to ensure interventions are in line with close existing conditions and are able to change the course.

He expressed their readiness to work with The Gambia in ensuring the report reflects everybody’s views and realities on the ground, adding that they hope the project will be able to address issues The Gambia faces in terms of electrification.