Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gambia’s legislature endorse ‘emergency electricity programme’

The Gambia’s National Assembly has today (Wednesday) endorsed a grant of US$31.9M ‘emergency electric power supply programme’ meant for rehabilitation and maintenance of diesel generators and auxiliary equipment, fuel and lubricant procurement, and capacity building support to project management. 

The programme will also address payment preparation, monitoring and coordination cost by the implementing agency, West Africa Power Pool (WAPP). 

Meant for the Greater Banjul, a densely populated area, the agreement signed on December 16, 2013 between the Government of The Gambia and the ECOWAS Commission is expected to address erratic power supply.

Trade Minister Abdou Kolley
On January 15, at the first sitting of the legislature in 2014, the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment Abdou Kolley said this grant would help achieve greater energy sufficiency.

He said it will also reduce the unsustainable exploitation of forest resources to support the socio-economic activities of The Gambia.

The Gambia heavily depends on fossil fuel (heavy fuel oil and diesel) for its electricity generation.

According to Kolley, fossil fuel is the most expensive mode of electricity generation, especially for an oil importing country like The Gambia.

He said the frequent fluctuation of international oil prices over the years has seriously affected the operations of the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) and has been the prime mover of electricity tariffs.

“[This] has been a major concern to the Government of The Gambia as well as the development partners, who have been making interventions to improve the situation in order to spur the economy,” he said.

According to him, NAWEC is purchasing fuel at increasingly high prices and this consumes more than 50% of the company's revenue. Even though electricity tariffs are high, they are still not reflective of the real cost, thus making the situation difficult, he said.

With fluctuating oil prices, electricity losses are currently at 22% (reduced from 30%) due to ageing infrastructure, he added. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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