Gambia has been short of energy since it gained independence more than half a century ago but new President Adama Barrow has made it his administration’s topmost priority.
The country is not energy independent and now importing energy from neighboring Senegal to help supplement and meet new demands. It will see the biggest increased since we began to hear about the “energy crisis” of our nation.
President Barrow has renewed his pledge to resolve the national water and electricity crisis, a sector he says is critical to the economic development of the country.
“We must improve the energy situation of this country. We must become energy independent. We cannot succeed as a country if we cannot meet our energy needs. To attract businesses, create jobs and improve lives, we need good electricity supply,” said Barrow.
“So I am calling on all ministers, senior officials and everyone that works in the government to put all hands on deck and work towards improving the energy situation in this country and make power shortages history in three years.”
The energy crisis is a broad and complex matter for The Gambia. Most people did not feel connected to its reality that was endured by rural dwellers until frequent power cuts became rapid shortly after Barrow took over from former President Yahya Jammeh.
Rural Gambia has been enjoying more stable energy supply since Barrow came to power. More poles are lining up the highway from Senegal into northern Gambia as the two countries build the infrastructure for the 30 megawatt supply.
Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang launched the construction of a $20 million (D920 million dalasis)- 20-megawatt power station in Brikama last month but the country needs at least $600 million (D27 billion dalasis to resolve its electricity crisis.
Aging infrastructure of power generating equipment is a major reason for the Gambia’s energy shortage. NAWEC, the state-owned power supply firm, which has a monopoly keep on using outdated equipment that restricts the production of energy.
Past governments have failed in their responsibility to keep on upgrading the infrastructure and set a high standard of performance, while renewable energy still remains unused. Frequent tripping and breakdown as a result of the poor distribution system continue to cost the Gambian economy billions.