Press Release – June 2022 saw The Gambia take a regional lead in the energy transition with its new Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Abdoulie Jobe validating the country’s feed-in tariff (FiT) and net metering scheme.
The scheme, which is approaching its tenth anniversary, was first introduced concurrently with The Gambia’s 2013 Renewable Energy Act, permitting independent renewable power producers to sell surplus electricity directly to the grid, additionally feeding power in for reclaim at any later date, bolstering steady supply.
This move represents the latest in a string of promising early steps taken by The Gambia’s nascent ministry leadership. Now, thanks to ambitious leadership in transitional power development, The Gambia has recently crossed the 50% threshold for the share of renewable energy in its national grid, with low-carbon power sources comprising 52.4% of total fiscal energy consumption at last count.
While industrial hydropower takes the lion’s share of domestic renewables generation, with the latest hydropower plant at Sambangalou adding 128 MW capacity alongside 93.3 MW planned at Digan, 80 MW under development at Fello-Songa and 20 MW at Saltinho, the objective of The Gambia’s FiT and net metering scheme is to promote solar, wind and bioenergy adoption among small to medium independent producers and enterprises.
Any stakeholder holding between 20 kW and 1.5 MW of renewable energy generation capacity is automatically eligible for the scheme and is paid $0.25 per kWh every one to three months for surplus energy fed into the national grid. Producers with capacity for above 1.5 MW are encouraged to sign 15-year power purchase agreements with national water and electricity company, Nawec, thereby permitting low-carbon power adopters of all sizes to contribute to the diversification and decentralisation of grid power supply. The move is a decisive one given that The Gambia is just 48% energy self-sufficient and holds a 60% electrification rate.
As with other MSGBC nations, a combination of factors including geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe, the Covid-19 pandemic and conflicts with suppliers has resulted in chronic fuel shortages for The Gambia over the past 12 months, highlighting even further the vulnerability of the country’s power supply. With the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference 2022 approaching, a central theme for governments and investors alike will be the future of African power that develops Africa. For The Gambia and its regional neighbors, self-sufficiency is top of the agenda, requiring balanced, diverse supply strategies and domestic investment incentivisation programs such as the FiT and net metering scheme to secure an equitable energy transition.
The Gambia is targeting universal electrification by 2025, funding the electrification of 685 communities in the country between 2021 and 2023 alone. But with West Africa holding some of the fastest growing populations globally, there remains an uphill battle to be fought in providing low-carbon power at scale for the country’s 2.5 million population.
Regional neighbour, Senegal has also introduced FiT and net metering as from 2018, and other MSGBC nations are sure to follow.