It’s been over 50 years of both the Jawara and Jammeh governments that the people of Kiang used kerosene lamps, candles and solar lights in recent times to light their homes.
Finally, excitement swept across Kiang as the long awaited day finally arrived. For many Kiangkas, especially the young ones, electricity will create a brief window of opportunity to create flourishing businesses as scores of them have already opened up shops for the sale of electrical appliances.
President Adama Barrow with a high powered delegation on Saturday travelled to Kiang Kwinella to officially inaugurate the Electricity Expansion Project under the theme: “Operation Lampomala” – meaning Operation lit the light. Thousands of Kiangkas lined up the streets while others used horses to escort President Barrow and delegation to the meeting ground in Kwinella in a show of joy and excitement. The project funds were provided through EXIM Bank of India.
The implementation of this first phase started in 2017, and the project covers seventy-seven (77) communities. Fourteen (14) of these are in Kiang, and sixty-three (63) are in the West Coast Region. Altogether, the range targets five thousand (5000) meters in Kiang and over twenty thousand (20,000) meters in the West Coast Region.
Official says the Electricity Expansion Project was successfully executed at a total cost of over Twenty-two and a half million US Dollars (US$22.5 Million) and it’s a key milestone in the government’s drive towards achieving universal access to electricity in The Gambia by 2025.
“The occasion is one of a series of similar events signifying that, without doubt, my Government rejects discrimination, and it is a government for all Gambians, all regions, all districts and all communities,” President Barrow stated.
“In consequence, we will continue to reach out to all marginalised and disadvantaged communities as we progress with our development endeavour. We have one common interest that envelopes the whole nation as a united and prosperous family, bound by a common destiny.”
“Today, we are able to provide a reliable supply of electricity in most parts of the Greater Banjul Area and in many other areas of the country. As we pursue our countrywide electrification agenda, Kiang has now been added to the list of beneficiaries.”
According to him, there cannot be any meaningful development in any nation without the required volume of energy generated to support its national projects and programmes, business enterprises, industry and production machinery.
Electricity, Mr. Barrow said, is necessary for socio-economic advancement. “It is essential for use in our homes, offices, schools, health facilities and factories, among others. Energy gives life to communities and nations; it brings about awareness of current affairs, and contributes to making people productive and active as citizens of the modern world.”
“The Electricity Expansion Project we are inaugurating today is part of the National Electricity Road Map for universal electricity access. It has many other components, such as The Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernization Project, the Regional Electricity Access Project, the OMVG Electricity Interconnection Project and The Gambia Power Generation Improvement Project. All of them are slated for completion in the next few years.”
Fafa Sanyang, minister of Petroleum and Energy described the event the event as “historic,” saying the importance of electricity can’t be over emphasised as it will improve the live and livelihood of the beneficiary communities and make life easy in their various homes.
“President Barrow has always been telling me that it’s only Kiang that didn’t have electricity, hence he will make everything possible in ensuring that Kiangkas also get electricity. “The entire country gets electricity apart from Kiang. In fact, it’s only Kiang where an electricity pole has never been installed for the past years. This is a promise made and promise accomplished.”
Nani Juwara, managing director of NAWEC, said the government of President Barrow considers access to reliable and affordable electricity supply as a necessity and a human right.
“The project we are about to inaugurate today, is part of series of projects NAWEC is implementing through funding from the government of The Gambia and donor partners to provide at least 85% coverage in terms of access to electricity country-wide within next five years.”
Shiv Kumar, project manager of KEI Industries and Mr. Ram Mohan Indian counsellor in The Gambia both spoke on the significance of the project and its impact on the beneficiary communities.