Gambia’s state-owned energy company, NAWEC is owed D400 million dalasis ( at least USD $10 million) by government agencies that remain delinquent, threatening to release names of businesses and agencies that owe past due bills.
The company is also owed millions by the country’s former leader, Yahya Jammeh, whose native village, Kanilai was consistently supplied with power and have never paid a bill.
NAWEC is struggling to meet demand for electricity in the country. The company has put in place an aggressive plan to improve supply to prevent a collapse of the electrical system.
The government signed a $150 million dollar deal with a Chinese firm, Sinohydro Corporation and says regular power cuts will be minimized in six months and supply made consistent in 24 months.
The Gambian state power company, NAWEC has a big problem. It provides about 100% of Gambia’s electricity and piped water.
Officials have said government agencies paying their past due balances will help with the operations of the company that is facing a near bankruptcy.
“There is a strong probability that paying the debts will help NAWEC avoid a total collapse of the electrical system and make quick improvements,” said a senior official.
A number of problems at power stations that only produce 40 megawatts of the 150 needed in the country are partly to blame. They include a failure to make much-needed repairs, a lack of investment and non-cost reflective tariffs, or taxes.
Several generators in Kotu and Brikama are non-functional. Some Gambians are considering other power sources to reduce their dependence on the electrical grid. Currently, renewable energy provides less than one percent of the country’s power requirements.