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The African Development Bank approved on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 a €121.5-million  package to the Gambia River Basin Development Organization (OMVG) to improve electricity access and provide renewable, clean and affordable energy in The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
Electricity supply in the OMVG region is limited, unreliable and costly. Access rates vary from 12 percent in Guinea, 19 percent in Guinea-Bissau, 35 percent in The Gambia to 60 percent in Senegal. This places a huge burden on consumers in places with high unemployment and limited prospects for growing new electricity-dependent businesses. The objective of the project is to raise electricity access rates by 2020 to 20% in Guinea, 42% in The Gambia, 65% in Guinea Bissau, and to 75% in Senegal. In addition, the high proportion of thermal electricity – as much as 100 percent in The Gambia and Guinea Bissau and 90 percent in Senegal – substantially raises the cost of electricity generated and impacts negatively on the environment.
The OMVG Energy Project will address these power supply constraints through the development of the Sambangalou hydro-electricity dam with an installed capacity of 128 MW and the construction of an interconnection network for the evacuation of energy, comprising 1,677 km of 225 kV lines, 15 high/medium voltage transformer stations, and two load dispatch centres. Project management and institutional support will also be provided.
Speaking about the approval, Alex Rugamba, AfDB Energy, Environment and Climate Change Director, said, “This project will help establish not only the backbone infrastructure necessary for the regional Gambia River Basin power industry, but the major regional electricity market covering the larger West African region as well. The progressive integration of isolated national grids into a unified interconnection system will help make electricity more accessible, reliable and affordable for those living in the region.”
The OMVG network will play an important role within the West African Power Pool system by connecting the existing Senegal River Basin Development Organization network in the north to the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia-Sierra Leone-Guinea network in the east.
The €937.5-million multi-donor project is also supported by the European Investment Bank, French Development Agency, German Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, West African Development Bank, World Bank, the governments of The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, and Exim Bank of China.
 Units of Account (UA) rates (as of Sept. 2015): UA 1 = EUR 1.25172