Solar Energy to Power 1,100 Schools and Health Centers in Gambia

Access to clean energy in the Gambia is set to be transformed under a new €142 million initiative to harness solar power and supply clean energy across the country, backed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), World Bank and European Union.
Gambia could be the first country in the world to ensure all of its 1,100 rural schools and health centers will benefit from a reliable energy supply using solar and battery technology. This will happen through a 20-MW solar energy and 400 km distribution project as well as installation of PV off-grid systems, to transform energy access and cut costs, brought to Gambia by the EIB, Institution that has not engaged in Gambia since 1991. The Project is designed to assure the sustainable provision of electricity powered by the solar systems for at least 20 years and to lay the groundwork for a national solar energy industry to provide additional services in the future.

Once operational, the scheme will increase energy supply by one fifth and transform electricity access in rural communities through the construction of a new photovoltaic plant at Jambur near Banjul, new power transmission and distribution infrastructure. The project will increase access to energy, ensure that education and health services benefit from reliable power and help to address current power shortages in the country.

The European Union will provide €106 million for the clean energy program to be implemented by national electricity utility NAWEC. This includes €65 million under a 25-year long-term concessional loan and a €41 million grant from the European Union budget. The project will also be supported by €35.7 million financing from the World Bank.

Energy demand in Gambia has grown by 5.5% a year in recent years and the new 20 MWp solar power plant to the national energy grid will both significantly increase Gambia’s current generation capacity of 98 MW and enable electrification of rural areas.

In 2017, 47% of the population of the country had access to electivity, and a major electricity gap exists in rural areas. Moreover, electricity costs in the country are far higher than neighboring countries and fluctuate due to reliance on imported diesel

Under the scheme all 1,000 schools and 100 health centers in rural parts of the Gambia that currently have limited electricity access are expected benefit from reliable energy supply through new connections to the national energy network and provision of off-grid solar and battery systems.

A dedicated part of the European funding will support feasibility and environmental studies, technical training, new infrastructure to connect social services and regulatory assistance to allow renewable energy to be supplied to the NAWEC.

Source: European Investment Bank

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