By Yankuba Jallow
The Deputy Managing Director of Nawec, Mr. Nani Juwara, has told journalists, that temperatures affect the power generation of the utility company.
Mr. Juwara said this during a press conference with journalists at their head office in Kanifing on Friday 22nd September, 2017, that lasted one hour, ten minutes. The purpose of the press conference was to give an update on the current dire situation of power generation and supply including water that NAWEC is going through, to meet the needs of residents within the greater Banjul Area.
DMD Juwara said when the temperature of the environment is high, power generation becomes problematic and this leads to poor electricity supply because the efficiency of the generator sets, goes down. “The high temperatures of the environment are not helping NAWEC,” he said.
Juwara said utility supply is below expectation for the mere fact that generation capacity is below the demand; that since the past week, supply has been inconsistent because 3 of the generators that supply power are currently undergoing maintenance. He named the generators as number 6 of the Kotu power station; that generator number 4 was down but has commenced operations. Juwara continued that 4 out of the 6 available generators at the Brikama power station are functioning whilst the 2 are undergoing maintenance. He said the problem intensified these past days.
Juwara said NAWEC’s generators are old sets inherited over 30 years ago, when the Utility company was called GUC, saying the problems they now encounter, have been inherited. He said the situation they face now, were the same situations faced in the past. “The demand for our service is higher than the investment that is been put into this sector,” Juwara said.
Currently, he said most of the generators are about to be installed after completing the maximum running hours and undergoing routine maintenance; that when they start operations, the generators will continue nonstop until their next routine maintenance and service. Juwara bemoaned the wear and tear of the aging machines, including their operational and spare parts cost, which he said is on the increase; that as a Utility Company, they are confronting the biggest challenges in Electricity generation and supply including water, to the masses and residents of the greater Banjul area. “We do not have any option but to maintain the machines and meet the demands of consumers,” he said.
Mr. Juwara also said that they are mitigating circumstances that will enhance the current shortage in supply from NAWEC. “We have funding from the World Bank to provide 3 new generators,” he said.
He said from the funding, Generator Number 8 that has been out of service for over 5 years at the Kotu Power Station, will soon commence operation towards the end of October; that the long absence of service for generator number 8 was due to insufficient funding; that they were lucky to secure funding through the World Bank and the generator will commence commercial operations soon, to enhance the generation capacity of the Utility Company. From the same fund, Mr. Juwara said the installation and operation of Generator Number 7 at Brikama power station, will be completed by end November 2017. And in addition to the two generators, the Watsila Engine that has developed a serious mechanical problem since June 2016, will soon resume operations as maintenance work has begun and is expected to be completed in December 2017 but will start service in February 2018. Juwara told journalists that NAWEC has received funding from two international Companies to install a new Generator at the Kotu Power Station and this is expected to be ready for operation in December 2017. “There is a huge challenge but efforts have been put together to enhance the generation capacity, in order to meet the demand and stabilise the power situation by the end of this year,” he said.
Juwara confessed that as it stands, things are tough and dire. ‘‘I must confess that we are all going through the most difficult times because the energy sector is a very complicated sector and the capital requirement is very high,” he said. He projected the investment cost for a single generator in the millions of dollars and said it was not possible for NAWEC alone to do such huge investment without the support of donors. He said with the ongoing efforts, the future is bright for the Gambia in general but for NAWEC in particular as there are ongoing regional efforts to help quell the situation. He said there is an ongoing project where the country will be benefit with 85 megawatts of power, to be supplied from Guinea; that the contract has already been signed.
He said the option they have in the short term is to maintain the old generators until December 2018, when everything will be normalised and stability will be restored in power generation and supply including water.
Juwara also highlighted the interconnection between West African states, to help solve power generation and supply problems. He cited countries like Senegal who are tapping electricity from Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Mali. In his view, the Interconnection between Gambia and other states will greatly enhance the power generation situation of the country’s utility problems; that currently NAWEC is in partnership with the Utility Company of Senegal, Senelec, to supply the people of Farafenni and Jarra Soma as well as many satellite towns and villages with 24 hours of electricity in those areas. He said there is an already signed agreement with Senegal to supply the Amdalai-Barra areas up to Kerewan. “The issue of interconnection is high on our agenda and it is the way forward for the Gambia. We will partner with our neighbouring countries to ensure that we get cheaper source of electricity for the country, in order to sustain our operations. As we speak today, if we continue with the same mode of production, power can be stabilised in the country but the cost of electricity will be high,” he said.
Juwara lamented the political pressures faced by NAWEC during the past regime’s misguided policies and bad investments amongst many, that led them to this situation today; that this has caused NAWEC to run on a deficit on a month to month basis to the extent that they cannot meet operational cost. ‘‘We were compelled by the former regime, to buy heavy fuel from Euro Africa and Global Trading Group. From 1994 to date, six managing directors of this company have been sacked and these people are now manning international power institutions,’’ he said. “A Utility Company that cannot meet it’s operational cost, cannot invest to solve generation problems,” he said.
Juwara disclosed that NAWEC spends D200,000,000.00 on fuel every month but earns a revenue of D160,000,000.00, which he said is not helping them in their pursuit to retain stability in power generation and supply.