Presidents Adama Barrow and Macky Sall have used their joint press conference platform to clarify the Gambia-Senegal energy deal. Senegal’s electricity company SENELEC has been exporting power to the Gambia’s national power company NAWEC under an agreement that critics described as a ‘bad deal’ for the Gambia.
President Barrow, whose government got bruised for the power crisis left unattended by the ousted Jammeh administration, explained why Senegal had become a second option. “Senegal has an energy surplus. That is why we decided to partner with them for the supply of electricity to Gambia,” President Barrow told a news conference in Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The three-day Presidential Council meeting between Senegal and Gambia renewed commitment of both leaders to take their countries’ existing bilateral cooperation to unprecedented levels. At the end of the historic meeting, six major agreements have been signed by the two sister countries. All of them aim to strengthen ties between the two countries that have everything in common except colonial masters.
President Barrow allayed fears of critics of the SENELEC-NAWEC deal, saying the Gambia is a sovereign state and that the deal is a temporal measure geared towards helping Gambia to stabilise its energy sector. He added that the Gambia has a already road map for the energy sector. “So the NAWEC-SENELEC deal is a short and medium term project,” said Barrow whose administration inherited mountains of crisis stemming from over two decades of dictatorship. Yahya Jammeh also drained national coffers, leaving less than a month’s import cover.
Also dousing fears was President Sall who cannot imagine endorsing commercial and economic deals that are disadvantageous for the Gambia. “What we did was based on mutual respect,” he said.
As some parts of the country are now enjoying electricity 24/7, the joint communique endorsed by the two Heads of States called for SENELEC “to provide the additionnal 1 MW from Karang power station to supply Amdalai-Barra area by April 2018.”
Meanwhile, the Gambia’s organic intellectual turned activist Madi Jobarteh has raised the alarm bell over NAWEC-SENELEC deal, insisting the agreement should be negotiated with the best interest of the Gambia.
“Therefore, the terms of the agreement for energy supply from Senegal must be reviewed to determine how beneficial or detrimental it is to the Gambia,” he said in an opinion piece widely shared on the social media.
The Executive Secretary of the Senegalo-Gambian Secretariat Ambassador Paul Badjie said the agreement has been signed between two countries that are very close.
“They did it without even thinking about the cost. It is not disdvantageous for NAWEC as SENELEC is not making any profit in the deal,” Badjie told this reporter.