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Gambia: National Assembly Approves Renewable Energy Legislation by Unanimous Vote

(Dec. 18, 2013) On December 12, 2013, The Gambia’s 53-member unicameral National Assembly unanimously adopted the Renewable Energy Bill, 2012, which, among other objectives, is aimed at putting in place a legal and institutional framework to encourage the use of renewable energy resources. (Aji Fatou Faal & Bekai Njie, Gambia Approves Bill to Promote Renewable Energy, DAILY OBSERVER (Dec. 13, 2013).) The legislation must be signed by the President or passed again by the National Assembly with the support of at least two-thirds of all members of the Assembly before it can become law. (Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, 1997, § 7, ACCESS GAMBIA.)

A text of the Renewable Energy Bill, 2012 made public in December 2012 provides tax incentives for operators of facilities using renewable energy resources for both power and non-power applications. It exempts from corporate and value-added tax projects producing electricity from renewable energy resources for 15 years from the date of their commissioning. (Draft Renewable Energy Bill, 2012 (Dec. 18, 2012), ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency website.) It also exempts from sales tax all proceeds from the sale of carbon emission credits. (Id.)

The legislation also mandates the introduction of another form of incentive, a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) system, to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources. FIT is a policy tool that encourages investment in renewable energy by offering long-term purchase agreements to producers of such energy. (TOBY D. COUTURE et al., A POLICY MAKER’S GUIDE TO FEED-IN TARIFF POLICY DESIGN 6 (July 2010).) Successful FIT policies consist of “(1) guaranteed access to the grid; (2) stable, long-term purchase agreements (typically, about 15-20 years); and (3) payment levels based on the costs of RE [renewable energy] generation.” (Id.)

The legislation directs the country’s Utilities Regulatory Authority to issue FIT rules to be approved by the Minister of Energy within six months of the law’s implementation. (Draft Renewable Energy Bill,§ 5.) It also sets a number of requirements. Among them is a requirement that network utilities will pay FIT only for renewable energy sources delivered into the grid and an exclusion from eligibility for FIT of electricity generated outside of The Gambia. (Id.)