gambia Gambia to produce renewable energy
In its efforts to address its "epileptic and erratic" electricity supply, the West African state of The Gambia is finding alternative solution in renewable energy. The project would be a fulfilment of the promise made by President Jammeh that his government is on course to defeat rampant blackouts in the country. The Gambian electricity and water supplier - National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) - not long ago signed a contract with a Canadian firm, NAANOVO, for the production of renewable energy. Under the said contract, NAANOVO is billed to produce renewable energy totalling 18 megawatts out of waste in a dumpsite in Tujereng village, 30 kilometres south of Banjul.

Due to high cost attached to hydrocarbon fuels, the world is now focusing attention on renewable to satisfy increasing energy needs. This is said to be less costly and environment-friendly.

It is obvious that the project, which starts soon, will provide additional strength to NAWEC to meet the high and unfulfilled demand of energy within the capital and its suburbs.

Since President Yahya Jammeh came to power 12 years ago, electricity supply had been in short supply, with most parts of the country living with regular power blackouts. Mr Jammeh said that, despite pumping over US$ 36 million in the sector, electricity supply remains problematic.

Thinking that some officials deliberately meddle with engines at the main power plant in Kotu, President Jammeh kept firing officials at random, yet the problem was far from being averted. His government also keeps inaugurating engines on a quarterly basis.

However, critics of his government believe that for the sector to get regulated, the government must stop shipping old and obsolete engines.

Another West African country that is also trying to make good use of renewable energy is Nigeria, where auditing of the draft policy on Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) by experts and stakeholders took place in Abuja yesterday.

The Director General of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Professor Abubakar Sambo, held the view that the meeting's sole aim was to generate ideas that ensure that the policy met the country's energy demands and supply.

Initiated some years, REMP, became the baby of a draft policy submitted to the federal government in 2005.

REMP will accelerate Nigeria's socio-economic development as well as enable it generate energy from other alternative sources.

Nigeria's pressing concern in the development of renewable energy is the lack of a frameworked for power sales from small-scale renewable energy producers to the national grid.

"Nigeria lacks a strong institutional leadership for renewable energy, a redesign of the institutional frame work leading to the emergency of clear cut policy is necessary for the country," Professor Sambo said.

Unlike The Gambia, Nigeria has started mapping out strategies for building capacities in four critical areas, including training of manpower to install, operate and maintain renewable energy systems and the development of manufacturing capabilities.

Nigeria, in the words of Professor Sambo, is also at the brink of developing scientists, engineers, economists for research and development as well as design effective functioning of institutional framework.

Being central to the economic development of West Africa region, EOWAS Director for Infrastructure and Industry, David Kamara, had asked Africa's most populous country to broaden the master plan to incorporate the sub-region.

He asked countries in the region to shift from "stand-alone" technology initiatives which slowed development and progress.

"If the Nigeria Renewable Master Plan is to enlarge and accommodate other countries within the region it will become more attractive and of advantage for ECOWAS," Kamara said.

The production of renewable energy will undoubtedly alleviate the problems of waste management African countries are faced with.