The OMVG interconnection project is set to reach the shores of The Gambia in 2019, setting the country's energy roadmap on a positive path and opening the region's energy market.

Officials from The Gambia River Basin Development Project (OMVG) have declared that the interconnection transmission and distribution line for the hydroelectric power supply of the Samba Ngallo Dam project in Guinea will reach the shores of The Gambia in 2019.

The representatives were briefing the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, about the status of the implementation of OMVG projects, reports the Freedom Newspaper.

“The project is a part of The Gambia’s Energy Roadmap and one of the cheapest and clean sources of energy. It also opens up the West African energy market. Other dams are being built and ready; and we are targeting to supply the entire West Africa,” said The Gambia’s Minister of Energy, Fafa Sanyang.

“We are also working on the transmission and distribution lines all the way from The Gambia to Senegal,” Sanyang added.

Other member countries in the project include Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry.

“The transmission line from Soma to Brikama, called the western backbone, at 225kVA is very important to provide stable energy supply. We are working on either transmission lines to have less power interruptions,” the minister further revealed.

He said energy remains a top priority for the government, ensuring that it would take 18 months to complete the transmission works on the grid.

OMVG Interconnection project

The project comprises two components: first is the extension of West African Power Pool transmission network, called the OMVG Interconnection.

It comprises of construction of 1,677 kilometres of 225-volt transmission network capable of handling 88MW of energy.

Second is the construction of 15 substations of 225/30kW each. Two of these substations will be built in The Gambia, including one in Jarra Soma.

According to media, Dr Antonio Serifo Embalo, chairman, council of ministers, OMVG, described the project as the most important energy project in the four-member countries.

“In terms of energy production and distribution, the OMVG is the more important. In the past, it has always been about theories. Now, it is a turning point: from theories to practical situations,” said Dr Embalo.

“The OMVG transmission lines construction has today reached 16 contractors, and materials for the interconnection lines are already on the ground in all the four countries. We are looking at the renewable energy from the dams to be distributed to the countries,” he explained.

Environmental considerations

In terms of adhering to the environmental laws, Lamin Dibba, Minister of Environment, said there are a lot of environmental impact studies that are ongoing, especially impacts on ecosystems and mangroves.

“Those studies focus on the river, the environment and how it is affected. The important thing is the deadline, for example, the interconnection line for which we already have a dam operating in Guinea. To access that, we need such an interconnection line,” said Dibba.

“Already we have mobilised the financing, which is $722 million. The four countries have signed the contracts. In The Gambia, we have two substations that would be constructed,” he concluded.