The Gambia launches renewable energy program

The European Union (EU), World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) have agreed to fund a renewable energy program in The Gambia, West Africa.

The project funding exemplifies international cooperation between key development agencies, with the EU set to provide $119 million, of which $73 million will be a concessional loan from EIB. The World Bank will further support the project by adding $42 million. The program will be implemented by the Gambian electricity utility company, National Water and Electricity Co.Ltd.

The program aims to provide 1,100 rural schools and health centers with electricity via mini solar kits and batteries, with the goal of increasing energy supply in the country by one fifth.

“The Gambia will be the first country in Africa, if not the only country in the world, to have provided renewable energy electrification for all public school and health facilities. The project is designed to assure the sustainable provision of [solar powered electricity systems] for at least 20 years and to lay the groundwork for a national solar energy industry to provide additional services in the future,” said Attila Lajos, EU Ambassador to the Republic of Gambia.

Aside from ensuring proper basic services such as health and education to isolated populations, the plan also addresses power shortages in the country and includes the construction of a new photovoltaic plant in Jambur, close to the Atlantic coast.

According to EIB’s VP for Energy, Andrew McDowell, the bank is committed to addressing climate change around the world and is pleased to support its first project in The Gambia since 1991.