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National Energy Policy, action plan validated

Nov 26, 2014, 9:46 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Ministry of Energy, in collaboration with various stakeholders, yesterday validated the Draft National Energy Policy, Strategy and Action Plan draft document for The Gambia.

Held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel and funded by the UNDP, the forum brought together participants from the Ministry of Energy, UNDP representative, members of the private and public sector, regional governors and others representing various institutions.

Addressing the gathering, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Momodou Njie, said the documents were produced as a result of a review of the 2005 national energy policy.

The availability of a reliable, efficient, and affordable modern energy supply is an important component of The Gambia’s priorities, he said.

“This is because the provision of energy is recognized as central to poverty alleviation and private sector-led growth,” Mr Njie said,

He added: “Mindful of this fact, the Gambia government over the past decades has been making various interventions with support from development partners to provide the vital energy services for the growth and development of the country.”

However, Mr Njie noted, for the interventions to have the desired impacts, the government in 2005 developed a national energy policy, strategy and action plan, which seeks to define the sector and directs the various interventions towards achieving the set policy objectives.

“Now it has been ten years since the first national energy policy was developed,” he said.

In order to keep pace with the dynamic and changing technologicaland environmental circumstances, the Ministry of Energy deems it fitting to review the policy, so as to reflect the realities of the sector and address the economy’s increasing needs for adequate and sustainable energy supply, Mr Njie emphasised.

He went on: “The review of the current national energy policy 2005 is supported by United Nations Development Programme through its country programme action plan, CPAP. The exercise started in 2013 and the consulting firm recruited to carry out the assignment was Sahel Management International.

“The assignment has been very useful, as the consultants have visited many government institutions, private sector organisations, women’s groups and civil society organisations to get the opinions of the people as to what type of energy system we need to define.

“In this regard, he told the participants, “the ministry counts on your expertise and to do justice to the documents, so as to have revised national energy policy, strategies and action plan that will be an embodiment of the needs and aspirations of the country as far as energy is concerned.”

Yemesrach Assefa, senior economic advisor at the UNDP office in Banjul, in her remarks, said the workshop was taking place just a week after the nationalrenewable energy action plan and national energy efficiency action plan baseline data report was validated.

The UNDP official said further: “As indicated in the Gambia medium term plan, PAGE, energy is a critical driver of growth and poverty reduction. Improving energy supply and access are key objectives of the second pillar of PAGE; that is, modernizing economic and social infrastructure.Energy is a critical ingredient and an enabler for socio-economic development of any country.

“Despite the importance, the energy sector in The Gambia has faced several challenges, including limited and unreliable electricity supply and high electricity tariff that is related to its over-reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity.

“The low electrification rate and high electricity losses through inefficient transmission and distributive grids remain a serious challenge too.”