The Gambia’s National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) is sitting on the edge of bankruptcy. The company has been faced with a legacy of arrears for many years amounting to over D200 million Dalasis.
Local governments shoulder the largest debt of D159 millions. Also indebted to NAWEC are Gambia Telecommunications Company Ltd and Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS). The two institutions owe NAWEC D50 million Dalasis.
In addition to financial constraints, NAWEC’s sustainability is seriously challenged by is continuous reliance on “outdated machinery that requires thorough care and maintenance.”
Even the company’s Board Chairperson admitted that NAWEC is standing on a wrong footing. Mustapha Colley said the company’s current trends of fuel usage is not sustainable. He said “70 per cent of the company’s budget goes into fuel.”
“Plans are on the way to hold a retreat to come-up with a sustainable way in terms of renewable energy,” he said.
An electricity specialist corroborated Mr. Colley’s assertions, arguing that powerful countries have moved away from using fuel for power generation. “They are now trying solar energy,” Subject Matter Specialists Alhagie TSA Njie told the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee and Public Enterprises Committee. He was scrutinized on the 2012 activity report.
The country’s sole producer, transmitter and distributor of electricity, water and sewerage, heavily relies on fossil fuel for its generators to power the country, which is too costly.
Mr Njie advised NAWEC to look at other sustainable methods of generating electricity and water supply.
“We cannot rely on tariff increment alone. If tariffs keep increasing, it becomes a matter of choice as people will prefer to shut down their meters,” he warns.
He says NAWEC alone will not be able to solve this problem. He suggests that the PAC/PEC and NAWEC meet to see how to solve “this longstanding electricity problem” in the country.
Njie wants a long term solution, for instance, a ten year plan which the PAC/PEC can recommend to the Government of The Gambia. “Otherwise the country cannot attract investors.”