OPINION: A short term solution to our electricity situation in The Gambia

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

First and foremost remove POLITICS, nepotism and partisanship from Nawec for business people wishing to invest in the supply of electric power to Nawec for onward distribution to take place.

Secondly remove bottlenecks including tenders for suppliers of fuel, heavy fuel, oil and lubricants to power generator houses including Nawec.

For illustration purposes of the above solution let us review the electricity sector of the Republic of Mali a landlocked country far away from the closest Coastline Port Country such as Dakar and Abidjan. In Bamako there is less than 10 hours of power cuts in a week. Why?

The government of Mali concentrated on power generation and distribution and left the supply of fuels and lubricants in the hands of the private sector that have fleets of tankers plying the countries buying these commodities with the right specifications for sale to the National Electrical company called “EDM”. Anyone can engage in this business provided you supply the right quality product at the point of custom entry. The Customs has a special unit dealing with fuel and lubricant only and has a well-equipped Lab to control and certify the grade and quality of imports.

By adopting this liberalized supply method EDM never runs out of its basic commodities which avails them to concentrate on the core power generation and distribution networks and collecting payments and paying its suppliers.

The Gambia government can send a delegation to Mali to verify this information and learn the modalities thereof.

The Gambia can go further by liberalizing the power generation activities by allowing anyone willing to invest and connect to the power grid of Nawec. A little like what we see with solar and wind power users selling their excesses to national power companies in developed countries.

There are many private investors willing to install 2-4-6 megawatts power generators to generate electricity and sell to Nawec with meters installed for billing purposes between them and Nawec. Many of these investors are not willing to go thru endless negotiations and dealings and under-dealings just to get approval to operate. Government and Nawec should come up with an open policy and a simple procedure for accepting the connection to their power grids.

I believe if the above liberalizations are implemented with clear cut policy and procedure, power cuts will be a thing of the past in a matter of three to four months at least for those that are already connected to Nawec and not seeing the light.

Today those rural arrears that are connected to the Senegalese SENELEC power grid enjoy 24 hours electricity while people living in the Greater Banjul Area depending on Nawec suffer.

To conclude if Government and the President keep listening to business monopolist and Nawec officials that are only interested in lining their pockets and giving kick-backs to whom it may concern, then the electricity problems will be with us the next 50 years.

Once you espouse a capitalist economic system, open competition becomes the natural regulator for the benefit of consumers and investors and Tax collection.

Mr. President, allow open competition in the electricity sector and make Gambians happy.

Energy is the essence of life, survival and development.

Pa Njie Girigara.