Gambia Energy Sector Gets U.S.$31.9 Million Grant

The government of The Gambia and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Tuesday signed a US$31.9M grant agreement, earmarked for the former's energy sector. Reached at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan on the sidelines of the 71st Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of ECOWAS, the grant is provided by the ECOWAS Emergency Regional Programme for Improved Electricity Supply Facility (EERPIEF). The other two countries that benefited from the grant are the Republics of Mali and Sierra Leone, which respectively received US$54.34M and US$21.8M. The project seeks to improve electricity supply within these three countries in the sub-region.

The ECOWAS Commission chair, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, said the initiative is geared towards supporting member countries improve their energy sector. He observed that the ECOWAS member countries had and continue to grapple with problems associated to energy supply, which "does not meet the demand of the population". This, he lamented, greatly affects the socio-economic development of member states. The Commission chair however applauded the bloc's heads of state for giving priority to the development of the energy sector in their different countries. This support, which came following requests made by the three beneficiary countries, according to Ouedraogo, will ensure "uninterrupted" power supply in these nations by 2015.

The Gambia's Energy minister opined that ECOWAS has once again demonstrated its commitment towards the very ideals for which it was established. "We therefore pray that the [the existing] spirit of integration and brotherly solidarity continue to be manifested through the realisation of tangible programmes, particularly in the energy sector through regional inter-connectivity programme among others," she concluded. The minister of Infrastructure, Patrick Achi, on behalf of his colleague ministers of Energy, also underscored that the energy sector is very crucial in the realisation of rapid socio-economic development within the ECOWAS sub-region. Thanking the ECOWAS Commission for what he called the quick response to the requests, he also called on other institutions to complement the support of the former. Gambian-born ECOWAS commissioner for Infrastructure, Ebrima Njie, emphasised the importance of energy, which he opined is a necessity for human survival. He said it is the Commission's objectives to ensure that power supply is accessible to all by 2015.

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