8 July 2014

Gambia: New Project Seeks Public-Private Partnership for Increased Electricity Generation

A new United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 5 Project has called for public-private partnership for increased electricity generation in The Gambia.

The project on "greening the productive sectors in The Gambia as well as promoting the use and integration of small and medium scale renewable energy systems in the productive sectors" was unveiled Monday by the minister of Energy, Dr. Edward Saja Sanneh, during a ceremony held at a local hotel in Kololi.

Supported by the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the UNIDO/GEF 5 project has three main components: development of strategy and regulation on the integration of small and medium scale renewable energy systems; demonstrating technical feasibility and promoting investments; and entrepreneurship skills development on renewable energy projects.

The Energy minister, in his remarks, said The Gambia under the visionary leadership of President Jammeh has found public-private partnership to be a useful solution to "our energy problems". The enactment of the Renewable Energy (RE) Act, the minister pointed out, creates the enabling environment for RE businesses, something he said, that demonstrates government's commitment to this sector's development in the country. "This legislation provides incentives for both local and foreign investors to invest in The Gambia's energy sector. In the government's efforts to promote diversification of energy sources, we believe that this will not only help us to attain our objective to make The Gambia a truly modern and competitive economy, fuelled by sustainable energy, but also help us in attaining His Excellency's vision of transforming this country into a city state," he remarked.

Dr. Sanneh noted that the UNIDO/GEF 5 project will build on the successes of the ongoing GEF 4 project by targeting integration of small to medium renewable energy technologies, building the populations' capacity to engage in renewable energy entrepreneurial ventures and attracting investment from local banks into the renewable energy sector. He continued: "GEF 5 will also try to bridge the gaps that have been identified under GEF 4, key among which is the issue of co-financing. It should be noted with gratitude that a number of prospective promoters have already expressed interest to participate as demonstration projects under GEF 5. This is a positive step and I would like to encourage other potential project promoters to take advantage of this opportunity." The Energy minister expressed optimism that the GEF 5 project would attract much needed private investment in the renewable energy sector and help attain the policy objectives. "A number of bottlenecks have been identified during the ECREEE/IRENA led Renewable Readiness Assessment exercise. Key among these is the low private investment interest. This project therefore calls for partnership between the public and private sector to increase our electricity generation and supply capacities to meet the current and future electricity demand," he reiterated.

The permanent secretary, Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Naffie Barry at the occasion, recalled that the GEF 4 Project on "promoting the renewable energy based mini grids for productive uses" recently concluded with registered successes. She said through a strong collaboration with stakeholders, the demonstration sites not only showcased the use of renewable energy, but established the economic logic in the utilisation of alternative sources of energy, especially renewable energy.

The executive director of the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ndey Sireng Bakurin, said energy access, climate change and environmentaly-sustainable development have steadily gained visibility and attention at the national as well as international level. These, she said, are also central to economic and social development, and particularly to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "It is more important with the upcoming sustainable development goals which are currently being negotiated at international level," she underscored. She added: "Access to clean and affordable water is one of the main prerequisites for sustainable economic and social development. We strive to promote sustainable patterns of energy production and consumption through innovative and clean technologies, using locally available renewable resources-including, bio energy, solar and wind power."

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