By Olimatou Coker
The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MoPE) in partnership with the Ecowas Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (Ecreee) recently organised a workshop to validate an off-grid solar market assessment report for The Gambia.
The World Bank-funded initiative has the objective to assess the market for off-grid solar systems and recommend the most realistic market–based mechanism that will lead to scaling up access, using solar technologies supplied by the private sectors.
Rohey Darboe Bittage, permanent secretary of MoPE, said the Regional Off-grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) is supporting The Gambia and 18 other countries in West Africa, to accelerate the deployment of stand-alone solar PV systems in off-grid areas to increase electricity access by stimulating both public and private sector investments in rural electrification.
She highlighted the importance of access to electricity, calling it a prerequisite for the establishment of new businesses and for the expansion of existing ones, providing the platform for employment creation, social development, and economic growth.
“As part of our strategy for universal electricity access, The Gambia government has set a target to connect one-third of the rural population through off-grid solutions by 2030, which includes mini-grids and stand-alone home systems,” she stated.
She said The Gambia is participating in the ROGEP, designed specifically to develop a regional market for stand-alone solar home systems and to provide access to financing for solar businesses.
She said: “The availability of reliable electricity supply that is efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly is one of the cornerstones of The Gambia government’s development aspirations for the energy sector.”
She then urged the participants to critically review the report and provide valuable inputs to ensure that all aspects of the off-grid solar market in The Gambia are adequately covered.
Mr Sirreh Jallow, an Ecowas rep, said Ecreee will implement US$ 17.5 million in partnership with national governments of 19 project countries.
“Ecreee will follow a consultative process with its focal persons in the Ministry of Energy of all project countries and other ROGEP stakeholders to implement this component,” he added.