By Makutu Manneh
President Adama Barrow last Saturday laid a foundation stone for the electrification of 46 communities in the Central River Region (CRR) and Upper River Region (URR).
Forty (40) Communities in Sami District, CRR and six (6) communities in Sandu, URR will be the beneficiaries of the project.
The foundation stone laying for the construction of 30KV line from Laminkoto to Diabugu Batapa was presided over by president Barrow.
The project, called “The Gambia electricity restoration and modernization project (GERMP)”, is worth USD 8 million and the contract is awarded to MBH power.
Speaking at the event, Barrow said it is sad and a social injustice that parts of the country have been without electricity since independence. He said this is denying the people of the Gambia an essential aspect of a comfortable life.
“The contract is the first phase of an ambitious project to electrify forty-six villages from Laminkoto- Diabugu in the Sami and Sandu districts,” the president said.
President Barrow said the Gambia is on the course to achieve universal access to electricity by 2025.
He went on to assure Gambians that energy will remain a critical cross-cutting issue on his government’s economic development agenda as they recognize the vital linkages between energy, health, education, food security, foreign direct investment, poverty reduction and climate change.
The president said it is obvious that the rural area has been grossly disadvantaged by inadequate supply and access to electricity.
Fafa Sanyang, Minister of Energy, said surveys are completed for other areas in NBR, LRR, and CRR to have access to electricity.
He said the energy road-map approved by the cabinet in 2017 has a vision to modernize the energy sector for a new Gambia to have a 24/7 access to electricity and identify short and medium terms investment needed to modernize the energy system and the priority to restore generation gaps in Greater Banjul Area.
Nani Juwara, Managing Director of NAWEC, said electrifying these places is historic for the people as it is the first time in 56 years they will have access to electricity.
“Already, we have signed the contract in June 2021 to electrify over 298 communities in CRR, LRR and WCR and works are expected to commence before the end of 2021,” said Nani Juwara.
He said NAWEC with its development partners will provide electricity to 92 communities in West Coast Region, 185 communities in North Bank Region, 64 communities in Lower River Region, 139 communities in Central River Region and 149 communities in Upper River Region.
Mr. Juwara said the electrification projects are a game changer in transforming the economics and improving the lives and livelihoods of their people. He said NAWEC management and staff is ensuring reliable, quality and affordable electricity service country wide.
“We will continue on our reform agenda in making NAWEC financially viable and to be among the best companies in West Africa,” The NAWEC MD said.
The Chief of Sami, Morro Jawla, said they are happy to see that a foundation stone is being laid for their constituency.
“From 1965 to date, we don’t have electricity here,” he said.
He said this is the first time they are hearing that they will have access to electricity and they hope it will happen.
The funders of the project are the European Investment Bank and World Bank.