State House, Banjul, February 6, 2020 – The Practice Manager of the Energy and Extractives division of the World Bank Group in a courtesy call on President Adama Barrow on Thursday, said The Gambia is currently among four West African countries working to meet the universal access to electricity target by 2025.
Mr Charles J. Cormier recalled that when he visited The Gambia in 2017, there was crisis in the electricity sector but has observed the improvement during his current visit. He is in Banjul to take stock of all the progress registered since then.
The World Bank executive expressed delight that the number of power cuts being experienced in The Gambia today “has significantly reduced” compared to three years ago.
“If you recall in 2017, after the change of regime, there were huge power cuts of 16 to 18 cuts per day. The availability of electricity was only 25 megawatts on a grid that has a demand of up to 100 megawatts at the time,” he recalled.
As a result of that crisis, NAWEC drew up an emergency plan that development partners, donors and the government of President Adama Barrow invested in. Today, Mr Cormier said NAWEC “did a good job” to bring back the reliability of the service, to at most three power cuts a day.
“That is a huge improvement. I think the emergency plan was quite successful. The Gambia is among the few countries that wants to achieve this target five years earlier, including Ghana, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire,” Mr Cormier said.
His Excellency, President Adama Barrow’s vision of the electricity sector is to reach universal access by 2025. In the National Development Plan (NDP 2018- 2021), energy is categorised as “a priority sector” in the context of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030).
For President Barrow, beside access, there is also the issue of cost of electricity for average Gambians. The Gambia currently pays 23 Cents on average, while the US pays 12 cents on average for electricity. This pricing also impedes competitiveness of the economy if electricity is expensive, President Barrow said.
The Gambian leader also urged the World Bank to help NAWEC build local capacity to effectively manage the state company. The bank has invested $175million in the national energy investment plan, out of a $400million planned budget. This represents about 40 per cent.
The World Bank delegation was led to the State House by the Managing Director of NAWEC, Mr. Alpha Robinson.