The renewable energy project is expected to ensure reliable energy supply to schools and health centres across the country.
Gambia has received a $161 million support from three institutions to harness solar power and lean energy. According to officials, Gambia will be the only country in Africa to ensure all its schools and health centers are electrified with renewable energy. The project will benefit over 1,100 schools and health centers.
The support is being extended to Gambia by partners such as the European Investment Bank, World Bank and European Union.
The project which was launched on Tuesday will increase access to energy, ensure that education and health services benefit from reliable power. It will also help to address Gambia’s current power shortages.
A statement from the European Investment Bank says once operational the scheme will increase energy supply in the Gambia by one-fifth.
The project is designed to ensure the sustainable provision of electricity powered by the solar systems for at least 20 years, according to officials.
The 20 MW solar power plant will both significantly increase Gambia’s current generation capacity of 98 MW and enable electrification of rural areas.
Currently more than half the population of Gambia do have access to electricity and in rural areas only 15% of people are connected to the energy network.
Gambia’s finance minister Mamburay Njie described the project as mutually beneficial, adding that it will help the country achieve the target set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).
“This initiative is expected to generate 20MW of solar energy and distributed across 400km which will benefit rural schools and health centers. One of the main objectives of the project is to improve access to clean energy, substantially increasing the current energy supply to 20 percent in the country and ensure that rural schools and health centers get reliable power supply,” said Njie.
He said the project will also support Gambia in reaching its goals of increasing access to reliable and competitively priced electricity, which is essential for business development, job creation and income generation.