By: Kebba AF Touray
The National Assembly has on Thursday ratified the Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance (ISA) with an amendment on Article Seven.
Moving the bill for legislative consideration and approval, the Petroleum and Energy Minister, Fafa Sanyang, told the assembly that the ISA is conceived as a coalition of Solar Resource Rich Countries located on tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
“The Alliance aims to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and to bring together member states to provide the collective response to main common challenges to the massive development of solar energy, in terms of technology financial capacity,” he said.
Minister Sanyang reminded the assembly that the agreement was ratified on 13th June 2019 and its instrument of ratification was signed by President Adama Barrow on 18th July 2019. He added that The Gambia has since then been fully participating in all the ISA activities and programs. He said during the ISA Assembly General Meeting held in New Delhi, India, in 2018, member countries adopted the proposal made by India for an amendment to the Framework Agreement on the establishment of the International Solar Alliance.
This, he said, aims to expand the scope of the membership to all member states of the United Nations and that the amendment came into effect in July 2020 after the necessary ratification, approvals and acceptances were obtained from the requisite number of countries.
“Previously, membership to the ISA was limited to resource reached UN Member States located between the tropics of cancer and Capricorn. The Amendment was done on Article Seven of the Framework Agreement,” he said.
He said the initial clause of Article Seven (1) of the Framework Agreement states that “membership is opened to those sola rich states, which lie fully or partially between the tropic of Capricorn and tropics of Capricorn, and which are members of the United Nations. Such states become members of ISA, by having signed the agreement and having deposited an instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval.”
He added that Article Seven (2) of the Agreement, states that “Partner Country Status may be granted by the Assembly to the States which fall outside the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn, that are members of the United Nations, and are willing and able to continue to the objectives and activities in this Agreement.”
Sanyang further said Article Seven (3) states that “partner countries are obliged to participate in programs of the ISA with the approval of Members participating in the program”
He said the amendment on Article Seven now reads, “Membership is open to states which are members of the United Nation. Such states become members of the ISA, by having signed this agreement and having deposited an instrument ratification acceptance and approval.”
Minister Sanyang said after the scope of membership was opened to all the UN Member countries, the affluent and technologically advanced countries on becoming members, will be able to contribute in achieving the objectives of the ISA, by way of sharing technological knowledge best practices and resources needed as well as expedite the acquiring of an observer status at the United Nations for ISA.
“I kindly moved that this august Assembly do ratify the Framework Agreement on the establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA),” he moved.
Suwaibou Touray, Member for Wuli East, in seconding the bill said: “I support the amendment and I urge all the members to proactively give their support to the amendment.”
Halifa Sallah, intervening on the bill said: “the objective of creating ISA is clearly stipulated in the Parent Agreement and that the importance of the solar rich countries building up alliance is to provide the material and technical resources necessary for them to harness solar energy, to ensure accessibility, affordability sustainability of energy to the vast majority of our population”.
Sallah said if the membership is restricted only to the solar rich countries, which are currently incapacitated by financial resources, then the attainment of the set objective would be elusive. He said the idea is to be both rich in solar and financially and technologically endowed to be able to harness the wealth of energy that the country is endowed with.
Sallah also supported the proposal for ratification saying it is in the national interest and that it would not derogate the sovereignty of the nation.
Bakary Camara, Member for Kiang Central, also supported the proposed amendment, saying the agreement aims to provide reliable and affordable solar energy for the member states and expressed concern over the voluntary contribution by the members stipulated in the agreement and urged the legislature to critically scrutinize that aspect of the agreement.