The plant will also include an 8-megawatt battery energy storage system.
The event was hailed by traditional leaders, government officials and members of the public, who showed up in large numbers to display their support for the landmark move by government.
The project is a component of the Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernisation Project, co-financed by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank at an estimated cost of 27.8 million US dollars. It is being implemented by TBA, a Chinese company, and is projected for a twelve-month duration.
The massive electrification scheme is expected to improve the power generation capacity and efficiency of NAWEC’s transmission network to increase access to electricity for socio-economic development, as in line with the National Development Plan and the Gambia Electricity Sector Roadmap, among other national policies.
In addition, it will promote the extension, reliability and quality of energy supply nationally, as well as diversifying energy sources to consist of renewables to meet the ever-increasing energy demand of Gambians.
“This Solar project is an integral part of our national Strategic Roadmap, 2021-2024, aimed at attaining universal energy access by 2025 and transforming the Gambia Electricity Sub-sector as approved by Cabinet in November 2021,” the President said.
“The roadmap outlines my government’s aspiration to achieve universal access to electricity by 2025 and, at the same time, transform the electricity sector, so that Gambians can benefit from reliable and affordable electricity, leading to NAWEC becoming an efficient, financially sustainable power utility.”
He added: “The strategic roadmap serves as the development blueprint for the electricity sub-sector in the short and medium term. Renewable energy is highly placed on its order of priority.”
The President also underscored that in the roadmap, Solar PV is considered the cheapest form of renewable energy in The Gambia.
“This project will inject clean energy into the electricity grid, thus contributing to the achievement of The Gambia’s Climate Change Targets of Nationally Determined Contributions. It will also help us to diversify our electricity generation sources, reducing the country’s over-dependence on imported petroleum products,” he said.
The minister of petroleum and energy, Abdoulie Jobe, said in his remarks on the occasion: “The project comprises of the solar, the 225,000 volts transmission line that will connect Brikama to Jabang substation and to be able to evacuate power that is transmitted through the OMVG line to The Gambia.
“We will have primary stations that will be upgraded. We will have distribution transformers. Almost over 50 of them will be replaced to improve the quality of electricity supply service.”
NAWEC’s managing director, Nani Juwara, stressed the importance of the project and how it would contribute to easing the country’s energy problem, as well as help the country in achieving its climate goals.