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:
The 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 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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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