Energy Minister says 292 Gambian communities will be electrified this year

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By Momodou Jarju

The minister of petroleum and energy has informed lawmakers recently that over two hundred communities in the country will be electrified by the end of this year through the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Project.  

He made the statement during the questions and answer session at the National Assembly in Banjul. 

Hon. Abdoulie Jobe’s disclosure came in response to a question raised by the member for Central Baddibu Hon. Sulayman Saho who wanted to know how soon communities without electricity across the country will be electrified.

“The overarching objective of the electricity access project is to achieve universal access by end 2025. A number of the communities in Central Baddibu will be electrified as well as others under the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Project this year. According to NAWEC, the contractors for all the access projects are already on the ground. The ECOWAS project has 292 communities and the contractor is currently working phase wise,” he said.

Minister Jobe said the contractors were in the West Coast Region (WCR) and they are now in the Fonis and will subsequently move to Lower River Region (LLR), North Bank Region (NBR), and Central River Region (CRR). He further said the Gambia Electricity Access Project has 147 communities and its contractor is currently working in WCR and LRR North, as well as NBR.

“Already, as you know, the phase one, Laminkoto-Diabugu, has already been commissioned and operational, which is 46 communities. The backbone phase two, which is covering the North Bank Region, as well as the URR, the contractor is on the ground and doing the erection work. The backbone phase three—these are additional communities which, out of the savings of the first two projects, backbone one and two—that we will cover an additional 86 communities in CRR South and North, as well as the URR North” Minister Jobe explained.

“In addition, we have just received support from the People’s Republic of China to cover – this is the China 8 GBA electricity improvement project and we have about 37 communities that will be covered within the West Coast Region, including Mahmuda [village] and all these other areas. All these projects, with the exception of the China 8, all the other projects, work is actually progressing on the ground. We are working to make sure that the contractors complete their work by the end of this year.”

Lawmaker Saho in his supplementary question quizzed Minister Jobe whether the aforementioned projects will all be completed in 2025. The minister responded in the affirmative, saying most of them, particularly the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Project, will be done this year.

He added: “Because the works are ongoing, and they are erecting the poles, both the medium voltage and the low voltage, and they are also stringing the lines. So work is actually – but sometimes with all projects, there might be challenges, but it is the responsibility of the consultant and the contractor to solve those challenges and execute this time-bound project. Because these are all externally funded, and they have a time limit.”