By MUHAMMED .S. BAH
Law makers at the National Assembly on Wednesday 6 April, 2016, ratified two agreements on the establishment of the African Risk Capacity Agency (ARC) and the agency for the management of the common structures of OMVG Sambangalou Hydro-electrical Facility and the Power Transmission Network.
The two agreements were presented by Mr. Bala Garba Jahumpa, the Minister of Works, Transport, Infrastructure and National Assembly Matters, on behalf of the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change, Water, Wildlife and Fisheries.
In presenting the agreement on the establishment of the Agency for the Management of the Common Structures of OMVG Sambagalou Hydrometrical Facilities for ratification, the minister told the deputies that this was signed by the Gambia on 29 January 2016 at the 1st Extraordinary Session of the OMVG Heads of State and Government which was held on the margins of the recently concluded AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He said the agreement was signed by governments of the Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Conakry and Guinea Bissau in order to enhance the electric power supply within these countries.
The minister said the company established to manage this Sambangalou Hydroelectric Facilities and Transmission Network has the acronym “SOGESART”.
According to the minister, when this OMVG energy project is completed, it is expected to provide about 37 megawatts of electricity for the Gambia, adding that this will significantly go a long way in meeting the current national energy deficit with its attendant multiplier economic benefits for the country.
On the importance of the Sabangalou Dam construction, the minister said it is expected to boost agricultural production in the country as the saline water front of the River Gambia will be pushed further down to allow tidal irrigation.
This was seconded by Hon. Mam Cherno Jallow, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Upper Nuimi, who said this project if implemented will help encourage more investors to come to the country.
Hon. Alagie Sillah, NAM for Banjul North, also noted that the completion of the project will be able to minimize the cost of electricity in the Gambia.
Other NAMs who supported the agreement also spoke at length on its benefits.
Minister Jahumpa, in presenting the agreement on the African Risk Capacity Agency (ARC), said it was signed by the Gambia on 23 November 2012 at a conference of plenipotentiaries convened by the Commission of the African Union (AU) in collaboration with the ARC Secretariat and was attended by representatives from 41 AU member states.
In highlighting some of the potential benefits to be derived from the treaty, he noted, amongst others, the opportunity to participate in a continent-wide, African owned, extreme weather risk pool, access to free of charge to Africa risk view software (a software tool that helps to quantify and monitor weather-related food security risks in Africa), the opportunity to take advantage of regional continent credit or resolving grant facilities that will be developed and the opportunity to offer to host the headquarters of the ARC Secretariat.
It was seconded by Hon. Ba Faye Saidy, NAM for Jarra East.
In his contribution in support of the agreement, Hon. Muhammed Magassey, NAM for Basse, said Africans should decolonize their minds and solve African problems in their own African ways.
“We Africans should think globally and act locally. Our initiatives cannot succeed without smooth relationships amongst ourselves,” said Hon. Magassey.
He noted that the border closures between African countries can also impede some of the projects that are initiated for the benefit of countries on the African continent.
Hon. Baboucarr Nyang, NAM for Banjul South, for his part, supported the initiative which, he said, will go a long way in helping to promote African unity.
Hon. Magassey also asked the minister whether there are strategies for the implementation of the ARC and to which he responded in the positive.
The NAMs also spoke in support of the agreement.