Nani Juwara, deputy managing director of Gambia’s national water and electricity supplier, NAWEC, has admitted that of recent, the country is dark due to lack of stable electricity supply.
Speaking to journalists during a tour of the site in Kotu, Nani said the irregularity is also affecting the company’s revenue source and urged customers to bear with them.
“Energy business is an expensive business. The situation of NAWEC is inherited. The power supply situation in this country has never been 100 per cent OK. All what we were doing in the past was fire fighting which never solves any problem. It just addresses a present situation and not for the future. We are ready to work with our partners and the private sector. NAWEC alone cannot do it. We want to adopt the system in which the private sector is allowed to come in and invest in the energy sector like Senegal” he said.
According to Nani, they have a number of short term plans to address the current electricity problem. He said a number of rehabilitation are ongoing and G7 is rehabilitated and is in a test run and hopefully will be completed this week and available for commercial operations.
“That will relieve a little bit of the pressure that we are currently facing and more people will be supplied and the issue of load shedding will be minimal. However, it is not going to solve the problem definitively. What we are also doing is that we are replacing one of the engines. It is already dismantled and moved outside. We got funding from the World Bank and we are expecting this new engine sometimes in August 2017. But, even if the engine is here, installations takes time and we don’t expect it to be available for commercial operations anytime before mid of October 2017” he said.
He also stated that one of the biggest engine of 8.9 mega watts they had in operation also developed a mechanical problem since 2016. He said they are right now negotiating for a contractor and have secured funding from the World Bank to rehabilitate that engine.
Nani made it clear that in energy business, there is no quick fix.
“Off course there could be quick fix but it has huge financial implications. With the size of the Gambian economy, the government alone could not do it much more NAWEC alone. Our operations are capital intensive. The energy business is very expensive” he said.
He said a 6 mega watts brand new generator cost nothing less than 15 million dollars and NAWEC does not have those resources.
“But nonetheless, the efforts that we are making is to make sure the engines that are already down and available for rehabilitation are been rehabilitated. Even with that, it takes time. Even we have we have the spare parts in country today, it takes time at least at least a minimum of four to six weeks to be rehabilitated. Therefore, there is no quick fix to NAWEC problem that is why we are working on short, medium and long term plans to have definitive solution to our problems” he concluded.