#Article (Archive)

Jammeh urges Africa to prioritise energy for development

Aug 6, 2012, 11:24 AM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

President Yahya Jammeh has spoken of the need for the African continent to take energy as a priority to achieve its objective of developing the continent and get rid of poverty, stressing that energy is indispensable in any human development.

Jammeh, who was speaking Friday during talks with ECOWAS director of energy, Darbire Bayaornibe, and other senior officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) during a courtesy call on him at State House in Banjul, said Africa must industrialize in order to get rid of poverty.

The ECOWAS director and his delegation were in Banjul as part of a two-day validation workshop of the sub-regional action plan for capacity building on access to energy services.

“Without energy forget about any development that would be sustainable; we have different types of development, but all of us need development that would be sustainable and would be beneficial to everybody too,” the Gambian leader told the meeting attended by Cabinet ministers.

Noting that without affordable, reliable and accessible energy, there would be no way we can have industrialization, President Jammeh said in rural Gambia today, household income has increased thanks to energy facilities being enjoyed by the people.

“As far as I am concerned, it has always been my dream and vision to turn The Gambia into a city state,” he stated, adding that this is not an easy thing, but it is not unachievable.

“It is not impossible, and I made it very clear that the state needs a foundation that needed to be laid in order for one to achieve that status,” Jammeh said.

President Jammeh thanked the UNDP, UN and European Union offices for choosing T he Gambia to host this two-day important workshop and, in particular, ECOWAS for leading the initiative.

Mr. Bayaornibe said it is a common methodological framework to support mainstream and mainstream energy access into all their policy documents.

“It is a framework of collaboration both at the national and regional levels in increasing access to energy  services, and the main objectives set in this white paper is to at least provide energy services to half of the population in our regions,” he added.

According to him, they also set specific targets, that is, 100% of the total population should have access to improved cooking fuel by 2015, and at-least two-thirds of the population within the region should have access to electricity.

“The targets set for ECOWAS Commission and the UNDP has undertaken some activities mainly at the policy level, where we have held all the member states to develop national investment programs,” he said.

The ECOWAS energy director told the Gambian leader that they have made the capacity assessment for all the 14 member states that are in the white paper initiative, and the regional action plan for capacity building has been adopted by all member countries.

Also speaking at the meeting was the UNDP resident coordinator to The Gambia, Chinwe Dike, who said The Gambia needs to be congratulated in terms of having gone far in the implementation of this white paper.

The Gambia, she stated, was one of the countries that came onboard a bit later, but has now superseded other countries in terms of its commitment and achievements.

“UN is very happy as the lead technical partner and as you know 2012 was set aside as the year of Access to Energy by all,” she said.

The Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, who is also the minister of presidential affairs and National Assembly Matters, the ministers of Forestry and the Environment, and of Petroleum, Dr. Njogu L. Bah, Fatou Gaye, Tenengba Jaiteh respectively and Dr Almamy Camara of the UNDP all spoke at the meeting.