On 3-4 October 2023, a national capacity-building workshop in Banjul marked the formal start of the Leapfrogging to Energy-Efficient and Climate Friendly Air Conditioners and Refrigerators in The Gambia project. It provided the first opportunity to convene the broad range of stakeholders involved, including representatives from Gambia’s Ministries of Petroleum and Energy (MOPE), Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA), Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE), Health (MOH), Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources (MECCNAR), Gender, Children and Social Welfare (MOGCSW) and from Gambia Standard’s Bureau, Public Utility Regulation Authority (PURA), National Environment Agency (NEA) , National Assembly, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Technicians Association, National Electrotechnical Committee (NEC), Bankers’ Association, consumer associations, academia and trade associations.
The project is funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness Programme and is being implemented with MOPE as the focal ministry and MOFEA as the GCF National Designated Authority, with the support of UNEP’s United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative. The project activities include a National Cooling Action Plan and a legislative framework based on Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and labels for energy-efficient and climate-friendly room air conditioners and residential refrigerating appliances in The Gambia.
The project was developed against the backdrop of a predicted increase in the demand for room air conditioners and refrigerating appliances in The Gambia of up to 44% by 2040, dependence on imported petroleum products for electricity generation, and a strained electricity grid with high transmission losses and many consumers subject to daily planned and unplanned power outages.
It builds on The Gambia’s existing National Energy Policy and Energy Efficiency Action Plan which, amongst other targets, has the stated objective of improving energy efficiency through the introduction of mandatory MEPS and labelling of energy appliances, including refrigerating appliances and room air conditioners, the imposition of a variable value-added tax that discriminates based on performance standards and increased public awareness and access to energy efficient appliances.
The project will:
- Build local capacity for government policymakers on energy-efficiency of air conditioners and refrigerating appliances and their impact on the environment and climate.
- Develop a national market assessment to assess the current situation of air conditioners and refrigerating appliances in The Gambia.
- Formulate a National Cooling Action Plan which will provide the background recommendations for the development of the legislative framework on energy efficiency measures and an integrated vision across the sectors that are involved in cooling.
- Establish a regulatory framework for implementation of MEPS and labels for air conditioners and refrigerators.
- Develop a concept note to scale up the project to broader activities beyond the completion of the project.
Based on U4E’s Country Savings Assessments, a full market transition to high efficiency room air conditioners and residential refrigerating appliances in The Gambia could result in annual savings in 2040 of:
- 9 GWh on annual electricity savings (with avoided investment costs for two 5 MW fossil fuel-based power plants).
- 7 million USD savings in annual electricity costs.
- 5 thousand tonnes of CO2 avoided annually (equivalent to taking around 16 thousand cars off the road).
The workshop objective was to provide capacity-building training to ensure that policymakers and relevant stakeholders fully understand the context of energy efficiency policy measures for air conditioning and refrigeration options, including MEPS, labelling, market compliance, and public awareness, as well as their impact on the environment.
To this end, the first day of the workshop was open to a wide range of stakeholders. It set the scene for the project with information on international trends for refrigeration and air conditioning, an overview of National Cooling Action Plans, and the importance of market assessments, including a proposed way forward for the project. This was complemented with details of U4E resources and tools, such as the model regulation guidelines on air conditioners and refrigerating appliances and guidance for energy labelling for lighting and appliances, and their application in The Gambia, and case studies from other countries on energy-efficient cooling products, such as the East African Community/Southern African Development Community project.
The second day hosted a more strategically focused audience and provided an opportunity for the participants to receive an update on the ongoing market assessment and to discuss existing MEPSs in the region, what the development of the national cooling plan needs to take into account, and the national legislative process for the adoption of the MEPS, including the way forward.
During the event, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mr. Alagie Manjang, for MOPE, emphasised the need for significant investment in power generation equipment and electricity transmission and distribution systems to meet rising cooling demand. He further emphasised the need for a strong policy and regulatory framework, which are also crucial to promoting higher-efficiency appliances.
He further stated that the lack of dedicated policies on import restrictions and limited information on energy-efficient products hinders a sustainable market transformation. A gradual transition to energy-efficient appliances is necessary, as the cost of energy saved over their lifespan can be significantly higher than the original capital cost. Consumers can also gain significant financial returns by opting for more energy-efficient alternatives.
Mr. Peter D. Mendy, project focal point for MOPE, also emphasized the importance of energy efficiency in The Gambia, stating it can save money, reduce environmental impact, and reduce energy demand.
Mr. Patrick Blake, UNEP Programme Management Officer, reaffirmed the commitment of UNEP-U4E to transforming The Gambia market to energy-efficient and climate-friendly residential refrigerating appliances and room air conditioners. Mr. Blake was grateful for the assistance provided by the GCF and the government’s commitment during the project’s development. He further emphasised that if sound policy decisions for air conditioners and refrigerating appliances are implemented by 2040, The Gambia could realise annual electricity savings over 50 GWh and electricity bill savings of nearly $11 million annually, which could contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the implementation of the National Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.