Naturally, at the core of addressing the energy needs of third world countries like The Gambia is adoption of renewable energy in what is referred to as a ‘green economy paradigm’. In fact there is growing view that any sustainable energy production will be based on it. This view is what has now pointed to the need to exploring the opportunities and challenges related to the deployment of renewable energy in West Africa.
Essentially, it aims to support and accelerate the deployment of solar and off-grid renewable energy in Africa, and break down the barriers to development – financial, political, technological – by bringing together key stakeholders, including investors, policy makers, developers, energy companies, financiers, NGOs, manufacturers and suppliers.
There are several urgent reasons why renewable energy is what we need now. Outstanding among them is the yawning energy supply void. Even with our abundant God-given solar power, two-thirds of Africa’s population is said to have not been grid-connected and without electricity. The scenario cannot be more ironical.
According to available data from NASA, Africa has one of the highest solar irradiation levels in the world, up to 200KW square metre per year. Another source states that solar power in Africa has the potential to provide all of the world’s energy, by using only a small portion of the Sahara Desert. Many African countries including The Gambia receive on average 325 days per year of bright sunlight. This gives solar power the potential to bring energy to virtually any location in Africa without the need for expensive large scale grid level infrastructural developments.
The Gambian public and private sectors should make it a point of duty to participate in off-grid renewable energy production. It is the use of renewable sources like solar and wind to power stand-alone systems or mini-grids. Actually, these systems can be more cost-effective than connecting to the grid in remote locations.
For a start, ours is a country where numerous power generators are in existence; and so we need off-grid renewable power supply more than ever before, to augment the meagre supply from government grid while fighting climate change by reducing carbon emissions that naturally emanate from the fossil fuel burning generators.
Therefore, with success stories coming from other African countries in the area of deploying renewables for national growth, it is high time The Gambia took its proper place. If not anything, at least we are on a path to becoming an economic super power.]]>