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Rural electrification out to curb rural-urban migration - Education Minister

Aug 8, 2016, 10:43 AM | Article By: Isatou Senghore-Njie

Fatou Lamin-Faye, Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, said on 6 August 2016 at the inauguration ceremony of the Farafenni Power Station that the country’s rural electrification project is aimed at curbing rural-urban migration.

It would also help the youth to stay and work in their communities so as to contribute to national development, and avoid congesting in the urban areas.

Minister Faye also said any development project that does not address the wishes and aspirations of the people “is as good as a white elephant”.

The government is a people’s government and its development projects would be tailored towards addressing the wishes and aspirations of the concerned communities, she added.

The people of North Bank Region have always yearned for electricity supply since the First Republic to no avail, but “the current government has always considered rural communities to be important constituents of development”, hence the need to modernize the area in order to allow for maximum exploitation of rural economic potential, she went on.

The inauguration of the new project would, therefore, unlock the vast potential of rural communities and the provision of social infrastructure to rural and urban areas remains a high priority of the APRC government, she continued.

The Education minister added that the multiplier effect of electricity supply makes it an integral service for government as it stimulates other sectors of the economy.

The government also envisaged that its food self-sufficiency drive would be hugely boosted with these amenities, as it would attract well trained agriculturalists to the region, as well as enhance their commercial agricultural initiatives in terms of storage and processing.

The government would also continue to explore other alternative cheaper means of producing electricity through the renewable energy initiatives.

“This is with a view to ensuring the affordability of electricity to the average Gambian,” she added.

The government through the ministry of Energy and NAWEC, is participating in numerous regional efforts with a view to accessing alternative means of producing electricity,

 The government would also continue to provide the enabling environment for private sector investment through independent power producers (IPPs) and PPPs on a win-win basis, she added.

Minister Faye called on the people of North Bank Region to ensure the infrastructure installed is properly maintained and safeguarded, adding that substantial investment was made on the project, and would not compromise on its upkeep.

Electricity production and transmission is a very expensive and capital intensive venture, and for the sustainability of the facility it is necessary that it is protected, she said.

Ebrima Sanyang, managing director of NAWEC, in his remarks, said the electrification extension project was conceived a couple of years ago, with a view to extending power supply to many more Gambians by expanding the current transmission and distribution system and equally improve the power generation facilities.

He said the component of the power station project is part of the overall project which is funded through the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and the Gambia government to the tune of over US$20 million.

He said the project was developed to complement the sustenance of the existing infrastructure and its related efficient operations, as well as extend the electricity grid to many more Gambians.

It also consists of a power plant in Farafenni, with a heavy fuel oil based engine which serves the electrification of 24 communities of NBR, LRR and CRR.

The heavy fuel oil based engine would help provide longer hours of power supply to all the former and newly electrified rural dwellings, he added.

Mr Colley, chairman of the Board of Directors of NAWEC, called on consumers to make good use of the infrastructure, and support NAWEC in sustaining its operations by paying bills on time, avoiding and reporting illegal connections, as well as using energy efficiently.