Electricity Scarcity: NAWEC Provides Timeline to Resolve Problems 

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By Yankuba Jallow 

Pateh Sowe, Operating Officer at the NAWEC Distribution Centre, Friday said the company is implementing projects capable of addressing the troubles being faced in the electricity supply system.

He said NAWEC has since 2017 been working with the World Bank to ensure that they have a network that is fit for purpose.

“Looking at what we are operating in The Gambia, we have only distribution system – we don’t have transmission at different levels. We distribute and transmit at the same time. Any problem we have on the system would trigger an outage and that is not fit for purpose,” Sowe said.

He said there should be a system for transmission and distribution done at another level. He added that NAWEC is not using a system that operates in that way.

Sowe explained thar NAWEC initiated certain projects to address this problem, but they were delayed because of “safeguard issues.” He pointed out that the 225 Project seeks to establish 6 distribution lines, but the project delayed because certain people are refusing to be compensated. 

He stated that once they implement it, then there will be stability because transmission and distribution will be handled at different levels.

“When a fault occurs in one line, you will have stability in the other lines,” he said.

The operating officer, Pateh Sowe, said the current system being used is not fit for purpose. 

“When there is a fault in one, the other systems will not operate,” he said.

He indicated NAWEC’s desire to commission the 225 Project in 2024. He decried that some of the distribution installations were done in the 1960s and 1980s. He said they were built for standby generators for homes.

“This is what has been expanded. A standby system that has been expanded to take care of an entire nation over time, the adequate infrastructure is not in place,” he said.

He also discussed the challenges in the transmission system. He said they have embarked on projects to improve the capacity of transmission. He added that they are upgrading the transformers.

“This project has started and it is at an advanced stage. We will be able to at least evacuate all the power we have within the system,” he said.

On electricity expansion, he mentioned 5 projects they are implementing to ensure every Gambian have access to electricity by 2025.

“If you don’t have it in your house, your community will have access to electricity. We are electrifying the entire Gambia by 2025. These are all committed projects that are in implementationn stage,” he said.

Sowe said NAWEC wants to ensure reliability and quality in their services. He added that they now have a National Control Centre (NCC) that will be responsible for monitoring and controlling of the system using digital means. He explained NAWEC used transport and fuel to get to places to solve problems, but with the new system, they will be operating digitally from the NCC. He said they want to continue investing in renewable energy, which is sustainable and cheaper than the fossil fuel they purchase using hard currencies.

Foroyaa asked NAWEC to detail the electricity demand in terms and what they are able to supply to the people. 

Pateh Sowe said the current demand is 100 megawatts.

“The current load demand is 100 megawatts. We have 30 megawatts from Karpower, 50 megawatts from NAWEC own production and we are importing 50 megawatts from Senelec. Meaning, the available capacity is enough for the connected areas. Our problem is the network,” he said.

He said the 225 Project should have been commissioned in 2022, but the project delayed because of “safeguard issues”, people are refusing to take compensations and budgetary issues among others.

“The capacity available is there, but the offloading capacity is where the problem is and that is what we are working on,” he said.