By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC), on Wednesday 15th March, 2023 joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day.
The day observed annually raises awareness on consumer rights and needs. This year’s theme for the celebration is “Empowering Consumers Through Clean Energy Transitions.”
Mrs Amie Nije Joof, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, said energy as a consumer commodity is a major driver of Consumer prices that consumers need to be well informed about what types of energy they use, how they use it, what impacts the various sources of energy have on the environment, as well as the policies and strategies government put in place to ensure efficient and effective delivery of these services.
“There are two main categories or sources of energy and they are Renewable Energy and Non-Renewable Energy. Renewable energy resources include Solar, Wind, Hydro, Biomass and Geothermal, which are generally referred to as Clean Energy. The Non- Renewable Energy sources, also referred to as conventional or dirty sources of energy, include Coal, Oil among others,” she said.
She said the theme for this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, “Empowering Consumers Through Clean Energy Transition” could not be more befitting, especially considering the role clean energy plays in sustainable development and the global push Clean Energy Transition Agenda.
“As consumers are the bedrock of the development of any commodity, they hold huge influence in the sustainable development of our society. In this context, it is quite apt to use occasions like this and raise consumers’ awareness Sector Roadmap 2021-2040 storage, Jambur, which clearly manifest Government’s commitment in promoting the deployment of clean energy in our power supply system,” she said.
PS Njie Joof, said the primary objective of renewable energy or clean energy utilization is to protect the environment and or fight against Climate Change, It is important to note that how we use energy can equally contribute to the protection of the environment hence, the drive for the efficient use of energy called energy efficiency or demand side management.
“To promote the energy-efficiency agenda, the Government through the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is in the process of developing and in collaboration with partners is in the process of developing the National Energy Efficiency Policy and Strategy as well as the National Framework for leapfrogging the energy-efficient climate friendly air conditioners and refrigerators in the country,” she said.
Yassin Senghore, the Chairperson of GCCPC, said globally energy prices have risen by 50% in recent times and The Gambia amongst many other countries is facing a deepening energy crisis which is having a severe impact on vulnerable consumers.
“Clean energy transitions make the electrical system more efficient, reliable, affordable and resilient for the benefit of consumers and businesses. In addition, energy efficiency and renewable energy can reduce air pollution and its negative consequences on human health,” she said.
She also explained that the importance of a transition to clean energy solutions cannot be overemphasized, as it contributes to climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction. We as a nation have seen first-hand the devastating negative effects of climate change, in recent times.
“We have all felt the effect of the Russia-Ukraine war on the costs of fuel and this has affected most consumers and businesses through the unprecedented high prices of fuel,” she said.
She said the time has come for consumers to find ways to be less dependent on the outside world in relation to inputs for electricity generation. Generally, utilities that rely on a limited number of power sources can be vulnerable to price, availability, and other risks associated with any single fuel source.
“In contrast, the costs of energy efficiency and most renewable energy resources, such as solar or wind, are relatively and affected by prices of other fuels and thus provide a hedge against price spikes,” she said.
According to her, social, cultural, and behavioural factors shape energy choices. For this reason, consumers need to be sensitized and be involved in the discussions on clean energy transitions and that is why this platform was essential.
“According to Consumers International latest global Member insights survey, over 80% of consumer groups reported that people are adjusting their budgets to pay their energy bills, driven up by skyrocketing fossil fuel prices,” she said.
The GCCPC Chairperson stated that one of the main objectives of the event was to aid in understanding the barriers faced by consumers and starting the process of taking steps to remove them with a systemic approach.
She said that transitioning to clean energy requires a consumer protection framework that promotes and enforces the adoption of unconventional products and services while prohibiting any deceptive, irrelevant, or in fair representations throughout the process.