By Ndey Sowe
The Government of the Gambia and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States of America, on Friday 15th July 2022 signed into force a 25 million dollar grant that will be disbursed within four years, as a threshold program for the Gambia’s energy sector.
The renewal of the signing of this Threshold Program for the Gambia followed a previous one that was signed in November 2021 to support the electricity sub-sector’s accountability and improvement of NAWEC operations, and this Threshold Grant Agreement entered into force in 29 June 2022.
In welcoming this development marking the start of the implementation of the Threshold Program, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the US Embassy in the Gambia, organised a signing ceremony for the entry into force of the agreement, at the Ministry of Petroleum House at Bijilo.
Sharon Cromer, US Ambassador to The Gambia, said the day marked an important milestone for the energy sector as the Threshold Program which is a grant designed to strengthen the sector, comes into force.
“This grant will improve the governance and operational capacity of the power sector and lay the groundwork to increase access to reliable electricity throughout the country,” US Ambassador Cromer pointed out. She continued that this is an investment that will drive progress across many development areas.
US Ambassador Cromer added that reliable electricity is essential not just for economic growth but also for the provision of education, health care, tourism and much more, for the country.
US Ambassador Cromer further explained that energy promotes a robust health educated society, adding that the grant will also support Gambia’s efforts to achieve universal energy access by 2025, through renewable energy sourcing including solar and it will help the country meet its nationally determined contributions to curb greenhouse gases.
“This MCC Threshold Program is a foundation for sustainable economic growth at a critical moment in the Gambia’s history, and the United States of America is and will remain a steadfast partner of The Gambia in this endeavour,” US Ambassador Cromer outlined.
The US Ambassador urged the MCC team to be on schedule saying she is eager to see what this partnership will achieve through the MCC Threshold Program.
Abdoulie Jobe, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, said the Government of The Gambia and the United States have come a long way since their engagement on the Threshold program development began in 2018.
“The Grant Agreement was executed between the Government of The Gambia and the MCC on 16th November 2022. It was ratified by the National Assembly and assented to by President Adama Barrow on 3rd March 2022, making a positive milestone in the long-standing US-Gambia bilateral cooperation and friendly relations,” Minister Jobe explained.
Minister Jobe added that the day was meant to celebrate the laudable achievement which effectively marks the start date for the implementation for the Threshold Program for the duration of four years.
Minister Jobe further outlined that the program was expected to consolidate the advances made in the energy sector, by supporting the implementation of critical institutional and policy reforms to improve power sector governance and operations of NAWEC.
Minister Jobe remarked: “The successful implementation of the program will assist The Gambia to become eligible for a Millennium Challenge Compact, which is the ultimate objective of the Gambia Government to be able to access the necessary capital to finance crucial investment in the power sector, to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth.”
Seedy Keita, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, described the signing as unique, saying it is a clear testimony of the excellent relations that exist between the US and The Gambia. He assured that by the end of the implementation, universal access to energy and electricity in The Gambia will be met.