On Wednesday, the African Development Bank (AfDB) granted a $136 million (ZAR2 billion) loan to the Gambia River Basin Development Organization (OMVG) in order to facilitate the expansion of electricity access and provide renewable, clean and affordable energy in The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, the Bank said in a statement.
AfDB expanding electricity access
According to the bank, electricity access in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Senegal is estimated at 12%, 19%, 35% and 60% respectively.
With low electrification rates a key concern for economic growth and development, the goal of the OMVG Energy Project is to increase these figured to 20%, 65%, 42% and 75% respectively by 2020.
The Bank added in the statement: “In addition, the high proportion of thermal electricity – as much as 100% in The Gambia and Guinea Bissau and 90% in Senegal – substantially raises the cost of electricity generated and impacts negatively on the environment.”
The OMVG Energy Project
According to the AfDB, the Energy Project will contribute towards these objectives through the development of the 128MW Sambangalou hydropower dam and the construction of an interconnection network for the distribution of energy.
Alex Rugamba, AfDB Energy, Environment and Climate Change Director, said: “This project will help establish not only the backbone infrastructure necessary for the regional Gambia River Basin power industry, but the major regional electricity market covering the larger west African region as well.
“The progressive integration of isolated national grids into a unified interconnection system will help make electricity more accessible, reliable and affordable for those living in the region.”
The $1 billion (ZAR14 billion) Energy Project is support by the European Investment Bank, French Development Agency, German Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, West African Development Bank, World Bank, the governments of The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, and Exim Bank of China.