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.
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:
Gambias 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
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.
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
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.
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.
|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
manufacturing of briquettes in the Gambia from
groundnut shell in bulk quantities to serve as an alternative to
||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
||Introduction of a biogas program. This program attempted to
introduce appropriate Renewable Energy technologies to the
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
||Fiscal policy on the pump price of imported
fuels so as to encourage efficient utilization of the product;
||Move the fuel depot outside the limits of the
city of Banjul for health & safety, security, and to address environmental