The Independent (Banjul)

21 April 2005

Gambia: PS Stresses Importance of Energy

Banjul — In her remarks at the CILLS-sponsored two-day validation workshop on the household energy strategy in The Gambia, the permanent secretary at the office of the President, Mrs. Teneng Jaiteh has hailed the importance of domestic energy, which she said, is among the most important uses of energy in Sahelian countries, in particular The Gambia.

The workshop was organised by Promotion of Domestic and Alternative Energy, PREDAS. She said energy has a direct bearing on our daily lives since nobody can live with it. And like countries in the Sahel, The Gambia still depends on fuel wood as its principal source of domestic energy at the household level. He added that fuel wood should not be used as the only source of domestic energy, adding that other energies are liquidified petroleum gas, kerosene, solar thermal, photovoltaic and electricity.

She said that The Gambia and Sahelian countries heavily depend on fuel wood. She added that 80% of the energy consumed comes from fuel wood.

She said fuel wood consumption has increased from 279.83 tonnes to 374.89 tonnes between 1993 and 2004. This had indicated an increase of about 28%.

This trend, she added, is characteristic of sub-Saharan countries, especially those in the Sahel region. "The over dependence of the ever increasing population of the Sahelian countries on fuel wood as the main domestic energy resulted in the rapid disappearance of the natural forest cover and subsequent environmental degradation. As a result of these negative environmental consequences, CILLS in collaboration with its member countries has developed a regional approach for the PREDAS."

The main focus of PREDAS is to judiciously use the wood resources by promoting its rational exploitation and at the same time providing regular and affordable supply, promote the increase in wood potential, empowering the rural communities in the management of the forest resources, promote efficient wood stores, and promote renewable/alternative energy technologies and fuels.

In order to achieve these stated objectives, Mrs. Jaiteh pointed out, a household strategy was necessary. "In this vein, PREDAS funded studies at the national level for the development of strategy. These studies included national domestic energy consumption survey, review of the charcoal consumption assess the potential for producing carbonized briquettes, review of the experiences with community based natural resources, and household energy strategy," she said.

She thanked the EU, CILLS and Development Management Consultants International for their support to the programme. "Going through the documents, one would realise that the consultant did not only limit himself to the core problems of the assignment, but has gone further to make analysis of the causes of the problems and how to stem out."

He thanked the consultant, DMCI for providing what she referred to as a detail and comprehensive document. "I am sure it would be a relevant reference document, not only for the Energy Department but all the stakeholders present here today. I therefore urge all participants to activity participate in the deliberations so as to come out with a national household energy strategy that is relevant and implementable."

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