ECREEE, in part­nership with IRENA, based in Abu Dhabi, conducted a two-day RRA exercise in the Gambia, with the ob­jective of evaluating the country’s readiness for the deployment of renew­able energy technologies.

RRA is an IRENA initia­tive which, through multi-stakeholder engagement, assesses the market, le­gal and regulatory condi­tions for renewable energy development in a country. Based on the outcome of the study, barriers are identified and a roadmap, tailored according to the needs of the country, is developed. The first study within the ECOWAS region was con­ducted in Senegal in November 2011. Following the successful implementation of this exercise, ECREEE and IRENA selected three additional countries from within the region for a second phase of implementation; these include Ghana, Niger and the Gambia.

For the study in the Gambia, on 17 December 2012, delegates from the two institutions held bilateral meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Energy; the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA); the European Union Delegation to the Gambia; Gambia In­vestment and Export Promotion Agency; and the Renewable Energy Association of the Gambia. Through these meetings, barriers such as capacity gaps in the renewable energy sector and financial constraints were identified. However, there was a general agreement that the newly drafted Renewable Energy Law, if ratified, would obviate some of the chal­lenges and create an enabling business environment for local and foreign inves­tors to invest in the sector.

On day 2, 18 Decem­ber 2012, a workshop comprising focus group discussions prioritized renewable energy tech­nologies and resources for energy services for development in the Gam­bia. Results showed solar for centralized electricity to be a top priority for the country, followed by solar thermal for heating, solar for decentralized electric­ity, wind for centralized electricity, and lastly solid biomass for cooking and heating.

At the end of the work­shop, there was consen­sus among the stakehold­ers that concerted action must be directed towards hastening the process of adopting the drafted RE policy; establishing stand­ards and labels for renewable energy equipment; rehabilitating the Gambia Renewable Energy Centre (GREC); validating data on solar, biomass and wind resource assessments; creating a renewable energy fund; and building the capacities of stakeholders (policymak­ers, regulators and the private sector).

It is envisaged that the RRA process will be replicated in 2013 in the remain­ing 11 ECOWAS Member States.