By Patience Loum,
Delegates from the West African Power Pool (WAPP) on Tuesday 10th October 2022 introduced a regional Power Park in The Gambia of about 150MWp using the “Plug and Play” scheme. The Gambia is expected to benefit from 50 MWp from the project with the remaining 100 MWp being supplied to neighbouring countries.
According to WAPP officials, the enabling infrastructure to tap into power from the Park shall be implemented with concessional or public financing whilst the development of the Parks shall be done by the private sector through auctions.
The two-day conference held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference at Bijilo was spearheaded by the Secretary General of WAPP, Sienhui A. Ki, The Gambia’s Minister of Energy and Petroleum Hon Abdoulie Jobe and attended by West African representatives of the Ministries in charge of energy and the Managing Directors of the National Electricity companies.
The objective of this mission is to decrease the power supply deficit in the subregion and increase the component of renewable energy and also to increase the capacity of the national grid to absorb renewable energy.
WAPP Secretary General Sienhui A. Ki said host countries must play an important role in identifying sites based on grid capacity, solar irradiance, the possibility of securing land, grid connection facilities and the availability of site access infrastructure in order for the project to be implemented at a competitive level.
Solar irradiance is the power per unit area received from the Sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Scholars have opined that solar irradiation is a promising source of energy due to the large amount that the Earth receives daily, enough to supply the needs of the entire planet.
Universal Access to Electricity by 2025
The Gambia government through its strategic electricity subsector roadmap is designated to provide universal access to electricity by 2025 said the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) managing Director Nani Juwara.
“Energy cost in The Gambia is relatively high due to the method of power generation facilities,” he said.
However, implementing an element of regional connectivity to harness the energy potentials within the sub-region through the WAPP with support from the World Bank is the roadmap.
The Minister of Energy and Petroleum Hon Abdoulie Jobe noted that the project will be implemented competitively so that the energy generated from the project could be affordable to the regional power utilities and larger communities in the Gambia.
WAPP Master Plan and Member Countries
WAPP Member countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, The Gambia, Togo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone and integrates the various national power systems into a unified regional electricity market.
The project aims to promote the trade of electricity among the ECOWAS member States at an affordable cost all of which is identified in the ECOWAS Master Plan for the Development of Regional Power Generation and Transmission Infrastructure (2019-2033) prepared with the support of the European Union.
The Master Plan contains seventy-five priority projects of which twenty-eight 28 are transmission line projects. Currently, nine 9 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) are interconnected and construction is ongoing to interconnect the remaining mainland countries namely Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia by the end of 2022.
The meeting ended with a series of questions and answers to allow participants from all regions to better understand the project and to provide clarifications. This is an attempt to increase commitment to the project from the various member states which will strengthen cooperation between the inter-connected regions and encourage the exchange of experiences.