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Energy Sector in Gambia
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Due to the rapid growth in the population of The Gambia in recent years, demand for energy has far outstripped the ability of the State owned utility to supply the country. The gross energy consumption of the Gambia in 1998 was just over 308,000 tones of oil equivalent TOE which represents 0.28 TOE on a per capita basis.

The net energy demand for the Gambia in 1998 was estimated at 287,100 TOE, which is supplied from firewood (225,500 TOE), petroleum products (61,600 TOE) and electricity (6,300 TOE)2. The two biggest energy consumers are households and the transport sector.
Energy Sources:
The major energy resources in Gambia are firewood, electricity, petroleum imports, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The government has established Gambia Renewable Energy Center (GREC) and seeks to collaborate with interested companies, individuals, development charities, research entities for the development of renewable energy through R & D.

Liquid Petroleum Gas:
The Gambia’s annual consumption of LPG was estimated at 1,350 tons for the period, 1996 to 1999, while the estimate for year 2,000 was approximately 2,000 metric tons. The share of household consumption, in total imports, is estimated at 85%, the remaining 15% represents consumption by the hotel industry.

The provision of reliable electricity to The Gambia has become a priority for the Government and there are investment opportunities at all levels. Generating capacity is substantially below demand, the distribution system, while adequate for existing generating levels will need investment and particularly with the development of industry and tourism up-country, opportunities will arise there also.

The most commonly used energy resource in the Gambia is firewood. The burning of fuel-wood for cooking & other uses accounts for over 80% of total energy consumption in Gambia ranging from 228 thousand TOE to 375 thousand TOE from 1990 to 2004 fuel wood. According to the 2004 Energy Balance, in The Gambia, 485,000 tons of firewood is used annually to meet the energy needs of 90% of the population, 60% of total fuel-wood used is consumed by the rural population for cooking.

Firewood has the largest share of both the national energy and the household energy balances. Its source is the forest and by virtue of this relation, its administration as a produce of forest resource falls under the purview of the DOSFNRE as the line department of state responsible for forestry affairs. The Forestry Department is the technical organ responsible for technical advice as well as operational, administrative and managerial aspects of forestry.

Commercial Trade: The Forestry Act has provision for the regulation of the movement of forest produce. It requires producers and sellers of fuel-wood to be in possession of valid licences issued by a competent regulatory authority. In addition, every transport load must be accompanied by a valid receipt and a removal permit. The Act also requires a producer to employ not more than three assistants to a licence holder; only dead trees are allowed to be cut; and the truck loads and the number of licences to be issued per division, are regulated. The Fuelwood Vendors Association (FVA) was registered in 1996 as a charitable organisation. It has a loose structure and has a membership of about 3,000, comprising persons involved in the traditional firewood trade.

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Renewable Energy:
The Gambia's geographical location gives it plenty of sunlight hours. The country receives 2,500 hours of sunshine yearly and the daily solar energy potential is an average 2.5 kJ per square centimetre area (2.5KJ/cm2). The government is encouraging use of alternative energy and the use of solar PV cells and associated equipment is on the rise be it for domestic, commercial or industrial use.

The use of alternative and renewable energy in the country is gaining recognition, especially the use of solar PV. This interest comprises both individuals and groups. However, the deterring factor in the widespread utilization of renewables is the initial cost of investment, which is beyond the reach of many Gambians. Most solar PV and wind installations are donor funded. The cost of the systems is tied to foreign exchange fluctuation. A 55 Wp solar PV costs about D11,000 while a 75 Wp costs about D16,000. Whenever the Gambian Dalasi depreciates, the cost of systems will increase correspondingly.

The following companies are operating in solar energy sub-sector include Gam Solar, VM The Gambia Limited, SWEGAM, Dabakh Malick Energy Centre DMEC, Gambia Electrical Company, CHYBON Solar Systems, and SANFOSI Solar, Consultancy and Engineering Services.

Over the years, a lot of systems have been installed for applications such as water pumping, telecommunications, refrigeration, and community lighting under various projects including the CILSS Regional Solar Programme (RSP) funded by the European Development Fund (EDF). The companies also provide PV systems, imported from abroad, for domestic lighting.

Limited numbers of other renewable energy devices, such as wind pumps and solar heaters, were imported in the past and tested, locally, but only to a limited extent. Some 20 wind water pumping systems have been erected and installed in various parts of the country but recent information indicates that most of them are not operational due to some faulty mechanism.

There is some interest in wind electricity generation along the coast line by a private concern – KEMPET International.

Bio GasThe utilisation of biomass is also on the rise though it tends to be limited to agricultural by-products such as wood shavings, peanut shells and straw.

An Italian firm – Electronic Solar has shown interest to the Energy Department to generate 10 MW of electricity using municipal solid waste (msw) and miscanthus grass. This interest has been expressed through the Consul General of The Gambia in Italy.

Wind Energy:
Wind speed in the country varies according to season and location in the country. The wind regimes are stronger during the dry Harmattan season throughout the country than during the rainy season. The average wind speeds countrywide is 2.5 metres p/s, which is too low to productive adequate electricity. However, this may not be true if such turbines are placed on the cliff edge, very close to the beach.

Use of windpower for water pumps is also welcomed and is increasingly seen in the countryside helping rural communities to pump up water from the local water table. One can be seen as you leave Ghana Town on the way to Tanji.

Previous Policies:

Programmes, projects and policy pronouncements implemented in the past by the Gambia Government includes:
• A Presidential Decree which banned the production of charcoal in 1980. The Government was concerned about the alarming rate of deforestation;
• Introduction of improved cooking stoves in 1982 to reduce firewood consumption;
• Promotion of Butane gas as a substitute to firewood under CILSS/EDF Regional Butane Gas Programme in 1992;
• Groundnut shell briquette production, 1982. This involved the manufacturing of briquettes in the Gambia from groundnut shell in bulk quantities to serve as an alternative to charcoal;
• Establishment of the Gambia Renewable Energy Centre (GREC) to serve as a research, development and promotion centre for renewable energy technologies in 1985. This followed the oil shocks and droughts in the mid and late 1970s respectively:
• Introduction of a biogas program. This program attempted to introduce appropriate Renewable Energy technologies to the Gambian population to be able to extract gas from animal waste for their energy needs;
• Plantations project started in 1950 by the Forestry Department to create more planted forests to serve as supplement to the already existing natural forests as a source of sustainable wood for fuel, furniture and construction building materials.
• Transfer of the power station to Kotu in 1980 to cater for the growing demand for electricity;
• Shift from light fuel to heavy fuel oil in the mid 1980s as a means to make electricity cost affordable;
• Construction of a bulk storage facility and sea terminal for LPG at Bonto so as to be able to procure LPG at international market price to make it an affordable substitute to fuel-wood.
• Fiscal policy on the pump price of imported fuels so as to encourage efficient utilization of the product; and
• Move the fuel depot outside the limits of the city of Banjul for health & safety, security, and to address environmental concerns.

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