By Abdoulie John
The Managing Director of the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) has challenged critics of the Gambia-Senegal energy deal to provide evidence that the deal does not benefit the Gambia.
Baba Fatajo’s reaction comes amid fears that the SENELEC-NAWEC agreement puts the Gambia at a disadvantageous position. The deal – the first of its kind involving the two neighbouring states – was exacerbated by electricity crisis, one of the offshoots of the Gambia’s 22 years of dictatorship that had left parastatals and state institutions hanging on the cliff.
“The deal is good,” Mr. Fatajo told journalists at news conference at the NAWEC headquarters in Kanifing. “We could not get anything better.”
The power supply agreement between Senegal’s electricity company and Gambia’s NAWEC has been the subject of tense online debates, with cyber critics many critics denouncing the ‘lack of transparency’ over the process that led to the signing of the deal. The issue topped the last week’s press conference held by President Adama Barrow and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall.
Fatajo said the World Bank, one of the leading Breton Woods institutions, was even surprised about the tariffs NAWEC was able to negotiate with SENELEC. He then reiterated that if it was a bad deal, World Bank would not have taken the decision to fund the project.
He disclosed that NAWEC is paying to Senegal 3.5 million dalasis per month. “When we were using diesel and operating for 13 hours (not 24 hours),the fuel cost was around 4.7 million dalasis. I would challenge whoever is saying this is a bad deal to give us any documentary evidence,” he said, emphasizing this does not include other operational costs.
He urged Gambians to put the issue to rest as they don’t have time to be arguing with ‘so-called experts.’
NAWEC chief also seized the opportunity to shed light on the issue of cross border electrification, noting that it is not something new. He cited signing of similar agreement between Ghana, Togo and Benin.
“Morocco and Algeria don’t have diplomatic ties, but are now linked with a power supply agreement,” he stated.
Baba Fatajo advise Gambians to desist from succumbing to “narrow nationalism,” which according to him, “will never take us anywhere. “It is the era of electricity without borders.”