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Petroleum minister says covid-19 pandemic affects energy sector

May 22, 2020, 11:56 AM | Article By: Arfang M.S. Camara

Petroleum and Energy Minister Fafa Sanyang has revealed that the covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected all aspects of life, including the energy sector.

“Covid-19 got everybody unaware and for countries like The Gambia, which is so far depending 100% on petroleum products for power generation is in a very precarious situation being at the mercy of the international oil market,” he said during an international online discussion on Wednesday on pandemic response and recovery and Africa’s energy transformation.

He added that the pandemic has also severely impacted the implementation of numerous projects being currently implemented by The Gambia government.

The discussion was designed at improving the continent’s resilience and stimulating economic recovery and sustainable growth in the post-pandemic period.

The conference was organised by African Union (AU) together with International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The online conference that brought together partners across Africa offered a platform for African governments and development partners to reflect on effective means for reinforcing action towards accelerating the ongoing energy transformation in Africa, in light of Africa’s Agenda 2063 goals and alignment of the pandemic response with the sustainable development and climate objectives.

“In the Gambia, the major consumers of electricity which include the light industries, the service and tourism sectors have been severely affected by the pandemic. This has led to significant reduction in the demand for electricity and thereby leading to significant loss of revenue on the part of the National utility company (NAWEC),” said Minister Sanyang.

He added that covid-19 has also severely impacted the implementation of numerous projects being currently implemented by government, noting that these include the renewable energy, electricity access and water supply project.

The implementation challenges, the Energy minister pointed out include delays in procurement, delivery of equipment and movement of staff, which he added will affect the target dates for completion of these vital projects.

“The smooth operation of the utility company has been affected by the delay in timely provision of spare parts for maintenance and absence to buffer stock to ensure continuity of service provision.”

In response to these impacts, Mr. Sanyang pointed out that the government in collaboration with the development partners has adopted various measures to mitigate the impacts on the economy in general including the energy sector.  

He told his colleagues in the conference that the Gambia’s National Development Plan (NDP), energy policies and strategies plans emphasised on ‘renewable energy solutions to our power sector.’

“The government of The Gambia constitutes a high-level national committee that is in charge of coordinating all responses to the pandemic in The Gambia, in order to appropriately respond to the potential impact of covid-19 and the related lockdown measures.”

Speaking further, he opined that there is need for government to enact a law that will be used to punish anyone liable for tribal insult.

“If Gambian abroad insults a particular tribe in the country his or her home should be seized. And if the person returns home he or she should be jailed for two years. If this happens tribal insult will be ended in the country,” he suggested.

He called on all and sundry, especially the political leaders to unanimously combat tribal sentiments in order to maintain peace and harmony that Gambians are known for.

“Let’s stop fighting one another and work towards the development of our motherland,” the anti tribalism activist concluded.

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