By Assan Bah
On Saturday 4th February 2023, President Adama Barrow laid the foundation stone for the construction of a 23 Megawatt Solar power plant and an 8 Megawatt battery energy storage system at Jamburr village in the West Coast Region. The project which is geared towards providing additional reliable, affordable and sustainable generation capacity to the population of the greater Banjul Area, is co-financed by the World Bank (WB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) for an amount of twenty-seven million, eight hundred thousand and two-hundred and twenty-five dollars, and contracted to TBEA, a Chinese construction company, and is expected to be completed in twelve months.
In his keynote address, President Adama Barrow said the proposed Jamburr solar power plant is a component of the Gambia’s electricity restoration and modernisation project, which he said is an integral part of his government’s national strategic roadmap, 2021-2024, to attain universal energy access by 2025 and transforming the country’s electricity sub-sector.
“The strategic roadmap serves as the development blueprint for the electricity sub-sector in the short and medium term, and renewable energy is highly placed on its order of priority. In the roadmap, Solar PV is considered as the cheapest form of renewable energy in the Gambia,” President Barrow said. He went on to add that “the project will inject clean energy into the electricity grid, thus contributing to the achievement of the Gambia’s climate change targets of nationally determined contributions.” That it will also help the country to diversify electricity generation sources in order to reduce the country’s over-dependence on imported petroleum products.
He urged the contractors to complete the project on time and thanked the World Bank and EU Investment Bank for funding the project.
Nani Juwara, the Managing Director of the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), said the mega project is the first ever connected solar PV plant in the country, and said it is a significant milestone in their quest to provide reliable, accessible and affordable electricity service countrywide.
“The objective of this project is to provide least cost of generation capacity for NAWEC to contribute to the Gambia’s unwavering efforts in climate change mitigations. This project with other similar ones, will significantly improve the country’s energy security and affordability,” Juwara said. He disclosed that all the people affected by the project have been adequately compensated. MD Juwara, renewed NAWEC’s commitment in ensuring reliable, quality and affordable electricity in the Gambia.
Daniel Tang, the contractor of the project assured the authorities of a timely completion of the project and thanked the government for entrusting them for its implementation. He said the contract focuses on a three year operations and maintenance program through which NAWEC staff will be equipped with maintenance skills and knowledge.