By Momodou Jarju

The Gambia’s National Assembly on Thursday 13 June, 2019 ratified the framework agreement on the establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) requested by the energy and petroleum ministry.  

The National Assembly Select Committee on Environment, that was assigned to look into the framework and prepare a report, tabled the agreement for ratification before the august body.

Considering the report and framework, the deputy of Serekunda constituency, Halifa Sallah, said the country cannot become a member of any international organization where membership will derogate from its sovereignty, which was confirmed by the environment committee. Sallah added that the Alliance has provided for amendments and withdrawal from it if any party feels fitting, which does not derogate the country’s sovereignty.

He said the idea of establishing ISA was the brain child of the Paris Declaration of November 31th, 2015, that urged members to come together to mobilize 1000 billion dollars by 2030 in order to reduce the cost of technology that produces electricity or energy in general.  

 “Our problem underlines the challenge that ought to oblige us to belong to this association; the issue of accessibility and affordability of energy. So, three key elements are important there, we are talking about accessibility, we are talking about affordability but we are also talking about sustainability. To create energy chain will require the elements of generation, transmission, as well as distribution. So, if you want to move from one energy chain to another, we are talking about tremendous investment that would have to be made. And that is why many of our countries are prisoners, once they start a particular chain, how do you move away from it to adopt another chain and that is the challenge that we are confronting,” he said.

Sallah said he concurred with the environment committee that the Alliance adds value to their quest for sustainable clean energy, thus it is a framework worth ratifying. 

He pointed out that pollution is a threat to the country’s existence and that is why the Paris Conference decided to go into the whole issue of strategizing in order to move all countries towards renewable energy that is inconceivable without the resources that are necessary.

On the issue of finance, Sallah said: “It talks about the budget. In order to maintain the center of course the government of India has volunteered to build the infrastructure and to contribute 27 million dollars and it is also noteworthy that 16 million would have to be mobilized as a fund to be able to sustain the institution. It envisages that within a period of five years, 2016 and 2017 to 2020/2021 they would be sustained from the 27 million that would be provided by the Government of India… It is indicated that the Solar Energy Corporation of India and India Renewable Energy Development Agency will be contributing one million dollars each and these are public corporations. So, the minister may look at this issue. Do you need to have a national agency like they have?”

Deputy of Upper Saloum constituency, Alhagie Mbow, also supported the ratification, saying the agreement has two key ingredients that the country needs to further its quest for clean and sustainable energy.

These he said, are “partnerships which will bring about promoting energy, security and energy access as well as collaboration which will also bring about joint research between the members and also information sharing and capacity building.”

The Deputy of Tallinding Kunjang, Fatou K. Jawara, and the majority leader and Deputy of Kombo South, Kebba K Barrow, all welcomed the ratification of the agreement and applauded the energy and petroleum ministry’s request for the ratification.

The minister of energy Fafa Sanyang said the questions and concerns raised by the deputies add value to what they are doing at the executive level.

He said The Gambia is going towards clean energy and to do that they are trying to map out how to approach it, adding that they have trained people on renewable energy.

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