Mame_Adama Gueye

COP 28 Insight: Mame Adama Gueye on Senegal’s Energy Revolution

In the dynamic backdrop of COP 28, LegalcommunityMENA engages in a compelling dialogue with Mame Adama Gueye, the founder and managing partner of Mame Adama Gueye & Partners law firm in Senegal. Renowned for his expertise in energy, oil, and gas, he shares insights into the evolving legal dimensions shaping Senegal’s pursuit of sustainable energy practices. 

Join us as we explore the intersection of law, energy, and environmental sustainability, gaining valuable perspectives from a seasoned legal mind at the forefront of Senegal’s progressive energy landscape. 

How has Senegal’s energy transition policy, initiated in 2010, evolved over the years, and what pivotal role does it play in addressing current energy challenges as discussed at COP 28?  

The energy transition policy initiated in 2010 made it possible to increase the contribution of renewable energies in the overall production of electrical energy to 31% of installed electrical capacities, a significant portion of which is solar energy. The scope of the development is considerable to the extent that in 2014, Senegal only had a 2MW mini solar power plant. This development, which contributes to the response to current energy challenges as discussed at COP 28, is perfectly in line with the commitment of 116 countries to triple the capacity of renewable energies in the world.  

In light of President Macky Sall’s commitment to energy diversity, how has the legal framework, particularly Laws No. 2010-21 and No. 2010-22, facilitated the growth of renewable energies in Senegal, and what significance does this hold at COP 28?  

Since 2010, Senegal has engaged in an energy transition policy by establishing a legal framework intended to promote the development of renewable energies, in particular the orientation law on renewable energies n° 2010-21 of December 20, 2010 and the Orientation law for the biofuels sector No. 2010-22 of December 15, 2010.  

This legal framework has not played a significant role in the development of renewable energies. The orientation law on renewable energies was more wishful thinking than a coherent system to stimulate the development of renewable energies. The proof is that it took 10 years between the passing of the law and the implementation of the tax and customs incentive system.  

This explains the in-depth reform of the legal framework with the adoption of law N°2021-31 of July 9, 2021 relating to the Electricity Code which repeals the orientation law on renewable energies N° 2010-21 of December 20, 2010 on the grounds that some of the objectives targeted by the said law have not been achieved.  

With renewable energies now contributing 31% to the country’s overall electricity production, how do private investments, guided by Law No. 98-29 and the Scaling Solar project, contribute to Senegal’s standing in the global discourse on sustainable energy transitions at COP 28?  

Law 98-29 contained provisions allowing the independent production of electricity. It is this legal system that has allowed private investors to launch a solar wind power plant project and several solar power plant projects which produce all of the renewable energy in these two segments.  

The Scaling Solar program has been an important lever for boosting the development of solar energy production. According to the definition given by the World Bank Group which is the initiator, Scaling Solar is “solution that makes it easier for governments to quickly procure and develop large-scale solar projects with private financing. It includes a ‘one-stop shop package of technical assistance, templated documents, pre-approved financing, insurance products, and guarantees.”  

Having participated as a local counsel of the State of Senegal, I can confirm the effectiveness of the model on the basis of which the calls for tenders which were launched made it possible to obtain from successful candidates one of the lowest kilowatt hour production rates in Africa.  

The recent reform of Senegal’s electricity sector through the enactment of a new law in 2021 signifies a significant change. How does this legislative update impact the trajectory of the energy transition and what attention might it draw at COP 28?  

In order to ensure the promotion of renewable energies, the Ministry in charge of Energy develops with the support of the structure in charge of renewable energies implements, after approval of the Energy Sector Regulatory Commission, the national plan for the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. The new legal framework puts in place measures to encourage the production of electricity from renewable energies and presents the terms and conditions for carrying out regulated activities in the renewable energy sector.  

In accordance with Law No. 2021-31, the technical conditions for the purchase, sale and remuneration of electricity produced from renewable energies are subject to differentiated measures depending on the source of renewable energy or the power ranges envisaged.  

Any compensation measures are adapted to the energy mix objectives of the State of Senegal and its international commitments.  

In terms of incentives, compensation measures allow a sufficient and incentive remuneration for investments in electricity production from renewable energy sources as well as a financial balance of the distribution network operator.  

Furthermore, always with a view to favouring electricity produced from renewable energies, any operator of a transport or distribution network is required to connect as a priority to its installations, the producer holding a professional qualification which expresses the request for the wholesale sale of its electricity production from a renewable energy plant.  

Senegal’s upcoming venture into oil and gas exploitation raises challenges for the energy transition. How does the gas-to-power policy align with global discussions on reducing carbon footprints, and how might it be presented as a case study at COP 28?  

In his speech at COP 28, the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall called for a fair and equitable energy transition, in accordance with the Nairobi Declaration adopted by African Heads of State on the eve of COP 28. President Sall delivered this key sentence without his speech: “Our countries must not be condemned to choose between development and environmental protection.”  

In this spirit, Senegal intends through the gas-to-power policy to satisfy its energy needs to ensure its development. At the same time, Senegal signed the Just Energy Transition Partnership in June which aims to increase the share of renewable energies in Senegal’s energy mix from 31 to 40% by 2030. A Group of international partners (Germany, Canada, France, United Kingdom and European Union) is supporting the implementation of this project which aims to mobilize 2.5 billion Euros over an initial period of 3 to 5 years, in order to finance green projects.  

Looking ahead, what role do you see Senegal playing in influencing regional or continental energy transition policies, and how might the legal community contribute to shaping the narrative at COP 28?  

In the West African sub-region, Senegal is a pioneer in the energy mix, particularly with the development of solar energy production. The independent production model is working well and the trend is growing. The structuring used in Senegal, which attracted private investors due to its bankable nature, can serve as an example. It is based on a secure energy purchase contract with the national electricity company accompanied by the sovereign guarantee of the State.  

Senegal can also serve as an example in terms of carrying out low-carbon projects. Two major projects are significant in this regard, the Regional Express Train (TER) and an urban mass transport system (BRT) which run on electricity. 

About Mame Adama Gueye 

A distinguished lawyer and former Bar Association President in Senegal, Mame Adama Gueye brings a wealth of legal acumen with 40 years in the field. As the founder and managing partner of Mame Adama Gueye & Partners, he has been a driving force in the legal landscape, especially renowned for his contributions to energy, oil, and gas sectors.  

Since 2003, he has consistently ranked in the top tier of business lawyers in Senegal. His leadership at Mame Adama Gueye & Partners has steered impactful projects, notably in independent electricity production within the wind and solar domains.