Press release March 6th, 2019

The Gambia: ECOWAS Regional Electricity Access Project Agreement Signed

Banjul, March 6th, 2019– The World Bank today signed a $66 million IDA grant agreement with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of The Gambia to provide access to grid connected electricity in The Gambia under the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Access Project (ECOWAS-REAP).

The goal of the project is to benefit 152,000 households and 1.1 million people in the three participating countries, and will increase electricity access rates by 2% in Guinea Bissau, 16% in Mali, and 17% in The Gambia.

The World Bank Country Director Louise Cord said: “The World Bank is committed to a long-term process aimed at boosting regional electricity access, building Regional and National capacity strengthening to support implementation of the REAP.”

Reducing energy poverty is a priority in ECOWAS since close to half of the ECOWAS population does not have access to electricity today.

The project’s innovation is to accelerate access through a regional approach based on common quality standards, harmonized procedures and joint procurement to achieve economies of scale.

The Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Mamburay Njie said: “The agreement is in line with the country’s National Development Plan, and it will change the lives of the rural household and reduce rural-urban migration.”

Currently, there is significant inequality in electricity access among ECOWAS countries and disparities between urban and rural areas. Guinea Bissau, for example, has an access rate as low as 14.7 per cent and just 4 per cent in rural areas.

Overall, the region’s growth in access has occurred at speeds far below what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7, namely ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

“Access to electricity is a crucial input and help for the Country to realize the full potential of their human capital, and help countries achieve important health and education outcomes, as electricity is an important enabler to those objectives” said Pedro E. Sanchez, Lead Energy Specialist for the World Bank.

In 1999, ECOWAS has established the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to integrate national power systems into a regional electricity market. This approach was based on the benefits of optimizing energy resources across the region by generating a regional mechanism for opportunity to both capitalize on large-scale generation plants designed to support multiple countries and trade power to maximize availability and minimize cost.  ECOWAS’ agenda aims at expanding on-grid access and ensuring its sustainability.

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