Solar or renewable energy consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on The Gambia

Gambia's gross energy usage is currently around 223.20 million kWh per year.

Lack of access to electricity is one of the biggest issues that countries in Sub-Sahara Africa confront, and it has also posed a substantial barrier to socio-economic growth in the region.

Over 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity, and over 780 million rely primarily on traditional solid biomass for cooking, such as firewood and agricultural waste.

Various concerns have already been expressed concerning carbon emissions from traditional coal-fired power plants, as well as the expected tripling of energy demand in the Sub-Saharan region by 2013, making renewable energy crucial for power generation in the region.

Due to its abundant wind, solar, hydropower, and even geothermal resources, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have huge potential for renewable energy deployment and investment.

So many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are already planning how to develop their renewable energy sources and use them to give an alternate source of electricity to their citizens, particularly those in rural areas.

Angola, for example, has formed the Angola 2025 target, which aims to provide modern power to around 60% of its people by 2025. Morocco, for example, is liberalising its renewable energy sector by raising the hydropower plant threshold from 12 to 30 megawatts and establishing the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy to carry out solar energy generation initiatives.

Renewable Energy in Gambia

In recent years, Gambia has witnessed a rapid growth in its population which has made the demand for energy far outstripped what the state-owned utility can supply. In addition, the gross consumption of energy in Gambia at present is over 223.20 million kWh per year.

However, Gambia geographical location positions the country as a great source of renewable energy. On a yearly basis, the country receives 2,500 hours of sunshine and the daily solar energy potential is an average 2.5 kJ per square centimeter area (2.5KJ/cm2).

Gambia’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, causing the demand for energy to considerably outpace the capacity of the state-owned utility. Furthermore, Gambia’s gross energy usage is currently around 223.20 million kWh per year.

The Gambia’s geographic location, on the other hand, makes it an excellent source of renewable energy. The country receives 2,500 hours of sunlight per year and has a daily solar energy potential of 2.5 kJ per square centimetre area (2.5KJ/cm2).

To capitalise on this, the Gambian government is encouraging individuals to employ alternative energy sources such as solar PV cells in their homes, businesses, and industries. The Gambia Renewable Energy Center (GREC) was also founded by the government, with the goal of collaborating with businesses, individuals, development charities, international organisations, and research institutions to grow the renewable energy sector in the Gambia.

Electric Solar, an Italian company interested in generating 10 MW of electricity in the Gambia utilising municipal solid waste (MSW) and miscanthus grass, has expressed interest in this collaboration.

Furthermore, one of the most significant obstacles to broad use of renewable energy in Gambia is the high cost of investment, which is out of reach for many Gambians. A 55 Wp solar PV, for example, costs around D11, 000, while a 75 Wp costs around D16, 000.

If the Gambian government is serious about providing a better and more reliable alternative source of energy to the people, it must devise a plan to ensure that every Gambian, both urban and rural, can afford a solar energy panel and is taught how to generate renewable energy without relying on the government.

By Yankuba E Jarju | Shropshire, UK


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