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GCCI, GEF/UNIDO Project convene SME forum on renewable energy

Mar 19, 2015, 9:54 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) in partnership with GEF/UNIDO 4 Project, Wednesday convened a daylong forum on the theme: “Supporting sustainable small and medium enterprises through renewable energy.”

The GEF/UNIDO 4Project would continue to promote the scaling up of investment in renewable energy through promotion and awareness raising activities, development of a national renewable energy investment strategy and also investment in further renewable energy projects in The Gambia.

The forum, which brought together entrepreneurs of SMES and medium-scale businesses to discuss the way forward in achieving sustainable renewable energy (RE), was held yesterday at the TANGO hall.

The forum in the form of presentations and analyses of economic and technical viability of the RE Project in The Gambia ended with a field visit to some RE demonstration projects.

In his welcome remarks, the national coordinator of the GEF/UNIDO 4 Project in The Gambia, one Mr Njie, said a similar seminar was convened for bigger companies, adding that small and medium enterprises were, therefore, provided for to discuss with them the need for renewable energy in the country.

Mr Njie said that most people look at the capital layout and then run away, but the best option should be renewable energy, as it is economically and technically viable.

The Director of Energy, Kemo Ceesay, highlighted the importance attached to the RE project, stating that it was designed mainly to demonstrate and promote viable renewable energy for productivity.

He said such forums for SMEs are meant to discuss the benefits of renewable energy, and how renewable energy could support their businesses to grow.

As a concerned government institution, the Energy ministry would continue this type of forum, he said, and appealed to the participants to make best use of the forum.

He called on all and sundry to support the project to explore renewable energy sources, and reiterated the support of government and the ministry toward the project.

Ndey Bakurin, Executive Director of the NEA and the focal person of the GEF/UNIDO 4Project in The Gambia, said that was the second renewable forum for SMES, which means facilitators of the project “are interested” in renewable energy promotion.

The theme for the forum, organised by GEF/UNIDO 4Project, was “Promoting renewable energy-based Mini-Grids for productive uses in rural areas of The Gambia”.

The project is working with the Ministry of Energy and the National Environment Agency, she said, adding that The Gambia as a country has shown real commitment to the protection of the environment, which is a key component.

“This was in line with Vision 2020 and other sectoral policies like the Gambia Environmental Action Plan,” she said.

“The Government of The Gambia continues to provide the enabling environment to address our energy needs, particularly for the people,” she said. Therefore, it was important they explored partnership and sustainable avenue to accessing energy, she added.

While the government is taking the lead role, the business community is important to ensure achievement of environmentally sound and sustainable development in The Gambia and the world at large, she went on.

The SME sector “is very important” as it is one of the principal driving forces for economic growth and job creation in a country, according to Mrs Bakurin.

She added that energy is a multi-dimensional issue, which influences poverty reduction and economic growth at both the micro and macro levels, and “it influences our social development and our environment”.