Power Africa’s Support for the “Build Back Better World” Initiative Through the Gambia River Basin Development Organization

As part of the G-7 partners’ Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, Power Africa is collaborating with the Gambia River Basin Development Organization (OMVG) on its power transmission project to promote interconnected electricity networks and improve electricity supply throughout West Africa.

The project provides the high-capacity electricity transportation infrastructure necessary for private companies to construct renewable power plants and transport their product to markets in The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and elsewhere in the West African Power Pool (WAPP).

Ninety percent of the overall interconnection network for the four countries is complete and comprises the development of a 128 MW hydropower plant with an annual output of 402 gigawatt-hours of electricity and an interconnection network of 1,646 KM. This network also includes 15 substations, serving a 1.3 million consumers in the four countries and operating two supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, for a total cost of $1.35 billion.

The OMVG project intersects the four focus areas of B3W:

  1. Climate: Facilitates development of renewable resources and displaces fossil fuel-based power generation.
  2. Health and Health Security: Provides electricity to rural health clinics, allowing them to have pumped fresh water, refrigeration, and good lighting.
  3. Digital Technology: Includes fiber-optic lines (dark fiber) running to rural areas, which could enable high-speed internet service to rural areas.
  4. Gender Equity and Equality: Facilitates rural electrification, which is a direct conduit for relieving the burden of energy poverty and economic disenfranchisement for women in rural areas in emerging economies. Rural electrification facilitates educational opportunities for girls, improves safety for vulnerable people, permits internet-based education and health care, and allows the establishment of women-owned cottage industries.

Power Africa Support

Power Africa’s support to OMVG is in sync with the B3W principle of cultivating “strong strategic partnerships.” In coordination with the Tony Blair Institute, Power Africa is supporting the transmission services agreements necessary for the proper functioning of the OMVG network and assisting to implement power purchase agreements that promote electricity trade and further private investment in generation and battery storage. Moreover, Power Africa is encouraging partnerships between the OMVG and WAPP, which will foster the expansion of WAPP, create a regional electricity market, and contribute to reducing the average electricity cost in each OMVG member state.

Soma substation in The Gambia — aerial view

In accordance with B3W’s principles of good governance and strong standards, the Power Africa team integrated the OMVG General Operating Principles within the WAPP Regional Grid Code to enable a reliable and integral West African Power Grid. The team also drafted data communications principles and protocols for OMVG’s optical ground wire which will facilitate internet connectivity in the region, particularly in remote communities.

The B3W initiative is (i) consistent with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) energy development strategy through its specialized agency, the WAPP, and (ii) an integral part of the priority action plan of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning Coordination Agency and the African Development Bank.

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