13 December 2014, Banjul – The Gambia’s Energy Minister, Edward Saja Sanneh, has said that fuel imports cause major problems for the Gambian nation as it uses up the country’s foreign exchange.
Minister Sanneh was speaking yesterday at a two-day validation workshop for the National Action Agenda and Investment Prospectus Document on Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) in The Gambia, held at the Sheraton Hotel.
“Fuel imports cause major problems for the Gambian nation as its uses up the little foreign exchange the country generates,” he said, adding that in 2009, the country spent about US$47 million in petroleum imports, which amounted to about 15.5% share of total imports.
The four important features that characterize the energy sector in The Gambia are high dependence on imported fossil fuels; the dominance of traditional biomass sources in the country’s energy mix; low access to modern energy services; limited investment in new assets and inadequate maintenance of old and ageing electricity supply equipment; and very limited investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency potentials.
Energy plays a significant role in improving the lives of people, and thereby contributes to development, he said, adding that energy is used for water supply and for fueling agricultural output, health, education, job creation and environmental sustainability.
Minister Sanneh said despite this, over 1.6 billion people in developing countries are deprived of access to reliable and affordable energy services (such as electricity and LPG) and over 80% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa uses traditional biomass for cooking and heating.
He added that the absence of modern fuels further propels poverty.
It was obvious that increasing access to good, affordable energy services is likely to engender considerable benefits in terms of people’s living conditions, as well as helping to achieve the MDGs, he added.
– The Point