Aug 5, 2011, 1:27 PM
The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy projects has just held a workshop, to prepare for the development of a detailed investment strategy for Renewable Energy (RE) development in The Gambia.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss barriers to RE projects, as well as access to finance for such projects in The Gambia.
Investing in renewable energy technologies across different economic sectors in The Gambia is of the essence, if we are to really plan well for the development of our businesses and our individual and national well-being.
This is because we cannot afford to continually depend on traditional biomass and imported fossil fuels.
We need to be planning for the future; we need to avoid greenhouse gas emissions caused by biomass and fossil fuels.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the ultimate goal to this UNIDO/GEF project is to avoid greenhouse gas emissions by developing and promoting a market environment that will stimulate investments in renewable energy in The Gambia which, in turn, will help drive economic growth, support rural electrification efforts in the country and contribute to poverty reduction.
“The energy sector in The Gambia is characterised by low levels of access to modern energy services, a high dependence on traditional biomass fuels and on unsustainable dependence on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation as well as transportation,” the ministry has said.
This shows that The Gambia still faces major challenges in the energy sector, despite making some achievements.
One of the challenges, as highlighted, is the over-dependence of the country on imported fossil fuels to provide modern energy services.
“More than 95 per cent of The Gambia’s modern energy services are based on imported fossil fuels,” according to the energy department.
Whilst this is not sustainable, it is also hitting hard on our economy as it continues to cause a huge drain on the country’s foreign reserves, making it vulnerable to foreign exchange risks.
This dire development has precipitated decisions and actions towards looking inward to utilize the indigenous energy resources of the country, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, which are sustainable, and “if judiciously exploited would go a long way in supporting the country’s economic development”.
Developing and utilizing renewable energy, therefore, needs huge financial resources and investments that require the intervention of the private sector or better still public private partnership.
Renewable energy needs investment!
“We need the will and the concerted collective efforts of all to win the fight against energy poverty.”
PS Momodou Njie