Sep 24, 2009, 6:39 AM
In his opening remarks, Momodou Njie, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Energy, said the training could not have come at a more opportune time than now, when solar technologies are in widespread application throughout the country.
As the Gambia government makes all efforts to provide reliable, adequate and affordable energy services to the economy, Mr Njie said it was aware of the fact that this cannot be done only through conventional energy systems.
As a result, PS Njie went on, the government over the years has been promoting the use of renewable energy, including solar energy to complement the conventional system in increasing access to energy for the population.
“Solar energy is an important energy resource and renewable for that matter, and as such has been a very vital vehicle for increasing access to energy for so many applications,” he added.
Njie noted that a solar photovoltaic system has the advantage of being designed and deployed in different unit sizes to meet the demands of different people in various circumstances.
Despite the flexibility of application and system sizes, the solar PV industry has been experiencing some challenges, he pointed out.
The government and its partners are aware of it, and are trying to address them, he said.
The challenges have to do with field technicians lacking the adequate skills to do a proper design, installation and maintenance of solar PV system, PS Njie further noted.
“This is giving a bad reputation to the solar industry in The Gambia, but the government together with its partners is ready to address them,” he stated.
The Ministry of Energy has recognised the importance of solar energy in increasing access to energy services, he continued, adding that they are ready to work with partners to enhance the capacity of field technicians, so that they can deliver efficient services to the satisfaction of consumers, thus regaining the good reputation solar has globally as a matured technology.
PS Njie thanked UNESCO NATCOM for the support in providing what he described as a critical training course, which would definitely refresh and enhance the skills of the trainees, some of whom are already doing the work in the field.
He called on other partners to emulate UNESCO NATCOM by also supporting the ministry to address this critical technical capacity.
He urged participants to take up the training serious as an opportunities like these are rare.
Momodou Sanneh, Secretary General NATCOM (UNESCO), in his statement said NATCOM was pleased to be associated with the training exercise, as the outcome could shape and improve the livelihood of Gambians.
This component of the project is born out of a strong desire to have skilled solar PV technicians, he stated, adding that it was essential in ensuring quality installation, proper guidance to customers on the operation and maintenance of the solar system and to meet customer expectations in terms of energy production.
The Gambia is blessed with abundant renewable natural resources such as the sun and wind, he said, but does not optimally utilize these resources due mainly to limited highly-skilled human and financial resources.
Almamy Kinteh of National Training Authority also spoke at the opening ceremony, while Kemo Ceesay, Director of Energy chaired the opening ceremony.