This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 4/12/2019

Overview

The total installed electricity capacity of The Gambia is just over 100 megawatts (MW) with actual generation levels at approximately 40MW and excess demand levels at 50 MW.  Nationwide, approximately 42 percent of Gambians have access to electricity, leaving significant room for growth in the energy market to bolster economic activity throughout the country.  The GOTG’s 2018 Electricity Roadmap coordinates the electricity sector stabilization efforts at the public and private sector levels.  The National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) manages the supply and distribution of electricity in The Gambia.  In 2018, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) purchased 75 percent of NAWEC’s debt in an effort to make the utility company more attractive to foreign investors. Transmission and distribution remains the exclusive domain of the government, and is also where the largest challenges lie.  In the rural areas only 13 percent of the population has access to electricity, whereas 71 percent of urban dwellers have access.  The Electricity Act of 2004 partially liberalized the energy market, essentially opening up electricity generation to independent producers.  Currently, there are two independent power producers (IPP) operating in The Gambia, supplying approximately half of the power generated in the country.

Table 1. The Gambia Energy Sector Trade Data 2014 – 2017, value (US $)
 2014201520162017 (Estimated)
Total Local Production312386435491
Total Exports0000
Total Imports0000
Imports from the US
 
n/an/an/an/a
Total Market Size99,00068,00085,00074,000
Exchange Rates: 1USD40424445
(total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
Source: The Gambia Trade Portal
Source (exchange rate data): Central Bank of The Gambia

Leading Sub-Sectors

The best future opportunity for investors is the liberalized electricity generation segment.  The Gambia needs to significantly increase electricity generation to meet the projected energy demand in the country.  This demand is increasing due to several factors, including a rising urbanization rate (60 percent).  The main challenge in electricity generation is transmission bottlenecks that would persist and hamper transmission and distribution even if extra generation occurs.  This problem is being addressed with the help of multilateral development institutions such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.  In the interim, there are limited opportunities for provision of fast track power because a Turkish energy supplier is already providing 36 megawatts of energy to the national grid. 

The Gambia is a signatory to the ECOWAS pledge to have renewable energy account for 10 percent of the total energy generated in the country by 2020.  Currently, 98 percent of the power generated and distributed by the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) is sourced from fossil fuels.  Several other viable options for renewable energy remain heavily underexplored.

Solar: The potential for solar energy is immense.  The minimum daily solar production capacity of The Gambia is 4kWh solar power radiation per square meter. The National Development Plan (NDP) seeks to increase the share of renewable energy from 2 to 40 percent.

Wind: Wind energy is the only renewable source that has previously fed into the national grid, but this was short-lived due to mismanagement by the former regime.  Most effective in the coastal region between the months of January and May, wind is a highly variable source of energy.

Bio-fuel: Biomass-based resources also offer an alternative source of energy.  A large number of crops, such as groundnuts, have a huge residue-to-kernel ratio and could be a valuable supply source of bio-matter as fuel.

Hydro-power: The African Development Bank and the World Bank are completing a regional project implemented by OMVG (Organisation de Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Gambia - Gambia River Basin Development Organization) that will provide hydro-electric power via dams in Senegal and Guinea to Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau.  The project is slated for completion in 2020.

Opportunities

There are several opportunities in the energy market with energy listed as a priority sector in the National Development Plan (2018 – 2022).  It seeks to increase installed capacity from 102 to 250 MW by 2025. The World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank are each financing projects in The Gambian energy market.  Due to capacity and supply-side constraints in the local industry, virtually all projects funded require procurement of foreign equipment and expertise.  Training of generator technicians at NAWEC is another area where there are opportunities to invest in the energy sector.  These two areas present opportunities in the short term (within the year).
The renewable energy sector provides significant areas of entry for US businesses.  Currently, all equipment used in the budding solar industry is sourced from China.  However, there is increasing demand for higher quality equipment, which can provide entry opportunities for US exporters.  The renewable energy sector and fast-track power through Heavy Fuel Oils (HFOs) present several opportunities in the medium term.

Web Resources

Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MoPE)
The National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC)  
The Public Utility Regulatory Agency (PURA)

 

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Gambia Energy Trade Development and Promotion