Since assuming the leadership mantle in end of January this year, Gambian President Adama Barrow has been confronted with so many challenging issues. His Coalition government first had to deal with security issues posed by remnants of ousted President Yahya Jammeh’s civilian and security loyalists. The government then grapples with problems resulting from dry budget. As a result, an Inquiry Commission into the assets and financial dealings of Mr. Jammeh’s was instituted. The Barrow government’s current challenge is how to guarantee uninterrupted electricity supply in a country that has the erratic but most costly electric supply in the world. As demonstrated in his tone after a visit to the Headquarters of National Electricity, President Barrow will not rest until his government addresses the Gambia’s electric situation.
President Adama Barrow today paid a visit to the National Water & Electric Corporation (NAWEC) main power station at Kotu. The visit followed periodic updates that the President had been receiving from NAWEC management on improvements to electricity supply across the nation.
President Barrow said: “I have been getting updates from NAWEC in my office over the last several months. But as any Gambian living in our country knows, our electricity situation has not been satisfactory. I wanted to come to NAWEC’s main generation facility here in Kotu myself, and see what is going on; to hear from staff on the ground, and get a better understanding of the challenges that are keeping us from getting stable and reliable electricity. It is important for the public to realise that I share their concerns about electricity supply.”
NAWEC officials had briefed the President earlier on the state of its old and obsolete generators, which were bought second hand close to 30 years ago. Even at the time of purchase by the Gambian government, the President learnt, these used machines had already been decommissioned from service before being shipped to The Gambia.
President Barrow was informed that NAWEC was working on various projects to boost generation capacity and alleviate the pain being felt by the Gambian public in terms of electricity supply. The President was shown one of several new generators – a 6.5 megawatt capacity generator, which is in the process of being installed at the Kotu power plant. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of October. The company will also commission a second new generator at Brikama a month later, and it should be operational by the end of November.
NAWEC is also implementing a new 11 megawatt generation expansion project at the Kotu Power Station, and this will be completed by the end of December. Yet another new 8.9 megawatt generator will go into operation in February 2018, after which, officials have assured the President that the country’s current power problems will have been significantly overcome.
Asked what his impressions were after the visit, the President replied: “I think my visit was timely. I know that there is a lot of concern out there. People are talking and complaining about electricity. I want them to understand that we are taking this seriously. It is important for us to inform the public about what is being done, and how best we can solve the problem.
Several ministers and a host of senior government officials accompanied the President to the Kotu Power Plant for the site visit.