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Erratic power supply affecting business in the Gambia

Electricity supply in the tiny West African state the Gambia for the past one month has been erratic and a major concern not only to businesses but also households.

Recently, the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), the sole supplier of electricity in the country, announced that one of its generators at the Kotu power station had broken down and therefore further worsening the situation.

Now the government-owned power supplier is forced to adopt load shedding in which various neighbourhoods are supplied with electricity at a given period decided by NAWEC.

Small scale business owners in Serrekunda, the largest town in Gambia, told PANA on Wednesday that their production was impeded by the erratic electricity supply in the Kanifing Municipality.

“The lack of electricity is affecting businesses and jobs. People come to work and sit down the whole day,” said Musa Njie, who owns a welding workshop.

“This is our source of income. Like any other family man, this is what I rely on to feed and provide for my family. If someone is without a job, the family can understand. But when you have a job, it is always difficult to tell your people that you are working but not getting anything out of it because there is no electricity. They just can’t believe you,” he said.

For many years now, one of the country’s major problems has been the inconsistent power supply and this unfortunate development is apparently scaring away would-be investors and further handicapping local businesses, large or small.

“I have been working under these conditions for 20 years. NAWEC frequently encounters problems, but they can’t miss out on collecting bills at the end of the month,” Mr. Momodou Njie, also a wielding workshop owner, said.

In the run-up to the Muslim feast, Eid-ul Adha, Mr. Lamin Camara said tailors like him are finding it very difficult to cope with the erratic power supply.

Mr. Camara is without a generator which could have served as a substitute for NAWEC-powered electricity supply.

“I find it very difficult as the (Eid) is fast approaching. I only see light at night,” he said. “I am unable to do the entire job I have and it will affect me financially.”

“Customers will not understand, especially if they can’t lay hands on their dresses. Some of them can take you to the police for this, even though it is never my intention not to sew their dresses,” he added.

In July this year, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) announced it had reached a loan agreement for US$12 million with the government of The Gambia.

The money is meant to finance the expansion of the Kotu power station to meet the increasing energy demands of the Greater Banjul Area, by connecting previously unconnected communities.

Though this is a good move, it is not clear how NAWEC and the government intend to reduce the erratic power supply

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