By Zainab Sesay
The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy last week organised a two-day seminar for National Assembly Members on petroleum resources development and management.
The lawmakers also had their knowledge enhanced on oil and gas, as the country continues to explore resources in the areas.
Majority Leader of the Assembly, Kebba K Barrow, said The Gambia is aspiring not to only be a petroleum consuming importing nation, but a producer/exporter of petroleum and its related products.
He added that the reality requires capacity enhancement for all actors in the petroleum value chains and one of these actors is the legislature whose capacity with regard to petroleum related matters cannot be over emphasised.
“This capacity building seminar will therefore go a long way in addressing the capacity gaps for the National Assembly members to be able to adequately scrutinise and handle petroleum matters put before them in an informed manner,” he noted.
He further stated that the strategic priority five of the National Development Plan, NDP, which seeks to “build infrastructure and restore energy services to power our communities,” identified the energy and petroleum sector as critical in attaining goals of the NDP.
Cognisant of the vital role petroleum plays in the socioeconomic development of the country, and the numerous challenges facing the sector, Barrow said the government of The Gambia, including the National Assembly, “is very committed to ensure that jobs and wealth are created for the overall benefit of the citizenry and the economy as a whole”.
Petroleum and Energy Minister, Fafa Sanyang, said: “Being the representatives of the people, the ministry of petroleum finds it prudent as part of its capacity building strategy, to organise this training workshop for people to have interactive discussions with experts on oil and gas exploration techniques, governance and regulatory matters.”
Minister Sanyang reported that the National Assembly has the unique responsibility of enacting legislation that guides sector administrations including petroleum operations.
“As we have witnessed the drilling of an offshore well last year, after about 40 years since the first was drilled, and having just concluded the first successful bidding round resulting in the signing of an oil exploration and production licence with one of the major international oil companies BP.”
He said The Gambia will continue with exploration efforts “until we find oil in the country and whilst we continue these efforts we should at the same time further strengthen our capacity in all relevant fields of the petroleum industry to be able to meet the demands of the industry”.