Renewable Energy a Game Changer for Socio-economic Development in the ECOWAS region

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is key to human survival and economic development in developing countries.  With high cost of fuel prizes which impact on the economies of developing countries as well as the rampant distruction of the forest cover in search for fuel wood, and the impact of climate change, ECOWAS member countries have no other choice but to fully take on board alternatives sources of energy – Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.   Experts at a two-day media workshop have underscored the urgent need for ECOWAS member countries to embrace Renewable Energy in a bid to catch up with development pace in the world.

In a bid to make that call relevant, Fandema project a charity organization located in Tujereng in the West Coast Region of the Gambia is one such community development project which started operations in 2012 taking on board Reneable Energy concept to bring about change to the lives of ordinary women. The aim of the project is to empower and upgrade the living standard of women by strengthening their productive capacities through entrepreneurship training.

The project offers services such as skills training, tailoring, tie and dye, arts and craft, cookery, ICT Lab, ice block making, nursery and primary school, maintenance, and painting amongst others, targeting youths and women.

Sustainable development is a cross cutting principle at Fandema Energy services, and has positive impacts on poverty eradication and improving standards of living. Reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply is a prerequisite for sustainable development.

Before re-installation of the sola grid in 2012, Fandema could only work on those activities not depending on electricity. At that time, they were doing tie and dye, sewing with manual machines and cosmetics. The fuel consumption rate for running the office and ICT training was expensive, and the project spent 423 Euros per month; and collected water outside the project compound by the women to water their gardens.

Fandema and Renewable Energy Project hold demonstrations on how renewable energies, solar and wind are a solution to the problem of energy access, and how the access of electricity can help developing new industrial and socio-economic activities in The Gambia.

Fandema is one of the projects selected under GEF-UNIDO, Promoting Renewable Energy based Mini-Grids for Productive Uses in Rural Areas of The Gambia, Fandema RE System is designed to make use of RE only and, as part of the training the use of RE for economic activities are highly encouraged and promoted.

The Environmental Impact of this Renewable projects is far-reaching because it has help to reduce the Green House Gas emission by working towards energy efficiency, lighting (efficiency or LEDs), cooking: stoves, parabolic and solar oven as well as awareness and sensitization on renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change.  These are the type of Renewable projects which can be a game changer in the quest to bring cheap and clean energy from sunlight free from polution and co2 to the doorstep of ECOWAS citizens.