The Gambian government has taken a significant step towards improving electricity supply in the country. The Gambian and Senegalese national electricity corporations last week signed a memorandum of understanding that will strengthen energy cooperation between the two countries. Both nations already enjoy an especially close relationship since the coming to office of President Barrow in January this year.
Gambian Petroleum & Energy Minister Fafa Sanyang recently led a team of officials to Dakar for meetings with Senegalese counterparts.
Besides finalising the memorandum of understanding, the national utilities, Société Nationale d'Électricité de Sénégal (SENELEC) and National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), also initialed a highly concessional draft power purchase agreement, to be presented for approval by their respective boards for final signature.
The power purchase agreement deal will connect cross-border points at Keur Ayib, Karang and Tamba Kunda. It will see SENELEC immediately supplying between three to 10 megawatts of electricity to NAWEC, with the possibility of expansion as the capacity of the network grows.
The electricity supply from SENELEC will go a long way to complementing NAWEC's supply. With this initiative, most parts of rural Gambia are expected to enjoy access to 24-hour electricity before long. This is a significant milestone in the Gambian government's rural electrification programme.
While in Dakar, Minister Sanyang paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Mahammed Dione of Senegal. He briefed him on the Gambian government's aspirations of sector-wide cooperation between the two ministries of energy and petroleum.
Mr Sanyang explained that the objective was to align policies and strategies and mutually defend both countries' interests as members of several regional organisations. These include the West Africa Power Pool, the Gambia River Basin Development Organisation, the Senegalo-Gambia Permanent Secretariat and the Mauritania-Senegal-Gambia-Guinea-Bissau-Guinea (Conakry) Geological Basin.
Prime Minister Dione thanked Mr Sanyang and welcomed the initiative. He confirmed the Senegalese government's commitment and full support, urging officials on both sides to take the necessary next steps to expeditiously formalise the cooperative initiative through diplomatic channels.
Electricity generation remains a top priority for the Barrow administration, which inherited less than 50% of the total installed generation capacity within the greater Banjul area. NAWEC has so far rehabilitated three of several old and faulty generators, which had down for almost a year. These generators are currently providing an additional 18 megawatts of power. The company is currently rehabilitating three other generators of a total capacity of 21 megawatts, and these are expected to come on line later this year.
NAWEC will also commission an 11-megawatt new generating set for commercial operations by the end of December. In the medium term, NAWEC plans to increase the available generation capacity to 120 megawatts by 2020 through a combination of public and private investment.
Source: NAWEC and Ministry of Petroleum and Energy