€827M OMVG energy project to kick off end of 2014

The energy project of The Gambia River Basin Development Organisation (OMVG), valued at 827 million Euros is expected to commence by the end of this year, officials disclosed Tuesday.

OMVG is the executing agency for integrated development programmes in the region and in particular is focused on the rational management of common resources of the Gambia, Kayanga-Géba and Koliba-Corubal Rivers.

The Organisation’s energy project involves the hydro-electric installations of Sambangalou on the River Gambia and Kaleta on the River Konkoure as well as the 1677km of interconnection network linking the four member states.

The project aims at supplying electrical power at low competitive cost, in order to reduce the present capacity production deficit that prevails in the four-member countries.

 “The project shall be funded approximately to a tune of 96.16% by the technical and financial partners and 3.84% by OMVG member states rather than a counterpart fund of 105 of total project cost as previously requested by donors,” the OMVG agriculture expert, Kabir Sonko told a validation meeting on the revised environmental and social plan of the OMVG energy project at a local hotel in Kololi.

The response given by technical and financial partners during the coordination meeting held in February 2014 in Conakry, and the pre-assessment meeting held from 14th to 18th July 2014 in Dakar, according to him, had generated great expectations for the implementation within the times allocated for this important energy project.   

Sonko said the project will allow these countries to obtain electrical power supplies amounting to 368 MW and a renewable power supply at a minimum cost of 1348 GMh, approximately 10% of their electricity needs by 2018. 

He explained that the funds from the member states shall cover essentially all costs related to the Environmental and Social Plan (ESP) through the mobilisation of resources from counterpart fund that shall be subscribed in the respective budgets of the member states from the period 2015-2017.  

The Environment, Climate Change, Water resources, Parks and Wildlife minister, Pa Ousman Jarjue, said the OMVG project will have positive impacts on the human habitats such as the improvement of the quality of life in the host sites, the land tenure security and the creation of employment and income opportunities.

The minister however cautioned: “Despite the laudable anticipated socio-economic gains from the construction of Sambangalou Hydroelectric Dam and the interconnection facility from Kaleta Hydroelectric Dam, it is vital for participants to carry out a thorough and vigorous validation process of the revised environment and social plan of the OMVG energy project, bearing in mind non-static evolutions in agriculture, wetland ecosystems, biodiversity and also protected national parks and trans-boundaries waters”. 

Minister Jarjue pointed out that the energy project of the OMVG will instigate many environmental and social impacts, both positive and negative. He noted that within the scope of this study, the impacts of the project have been identified and assessed according to the different phases of construction and operation.

With regards to Sambangalou, he observed that the most important impacts on the natural habitats during the construction phase are linked to the loss of natural resources such as soils and the terrestrial vegetation as well as to the faunal habitats, because of the creation of a reservoir of 185km2.

“The government of The Gambia is highly mindful and appreciative of the tireless efforts being made by the OMVG executive secretariat in pursuance of financing avenue for the project and wishes to express it’s profound gratitude to all funding support partners to this project,” he concluded.

The focal point of the OMVG unit in The Gambia, Bai Lamin Sillah and the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Water Resources, Parks and Wild life, Lamin Jawara all spoke at the occasion.

Author: Lamin B. Darboe