By Awa B. Bah
Solar power is becoming the trend in renewable energy in the Gambia as the country relies completely on imported petroleum to meet its commercial and domestic energy needs, including the generation of electricity which is entirely diesel based. Solar panels have set a new record for electricity generation as the demand on NAWEC increases coupled with frequent on and off.
The outcry from Gambians due to the lack of electricity and water supply for couple of weeks and months now has almost reached a national crisis level.
Admittedly, the poor water and electricity supply is nothing new in The Gambia, as the deputy managing director of NAWEC once put it so brief that the situation of NAWEC is inherited and the power supply situation in this country has never been 100 per cent.
Records have it that since 1977, power supply in the country has never been reliable and succeeding governments have tried to tackle it but to no avail. This is probably because they have only been buying second hand generators, which outlived their services. One can predict that some of the present generators of NAWEC are more than 30-years-old.
The outcry coupled with the high demand of electricity and water supply prompted this reporter to find out from consumers their alternatives in tackling energy supply. Most of the people interviewed were businessmen who explained that people cannot continue to bear this acute dearth of water supply and erratic power supply which have been seriously affecting businesses in virtually all sectors of the country. The water situation according to them has reached a level that makes it very difficult to have access to potable safe-drinking water, coupled with the low power supply to generate the little available boreholes in some villages and towns. Without regular energy supply, they said businesses cannot be effectively operated and the damage it causes on goods and services cannot be quantified in terms of monetary value.
“We are told that the government is working out measures to manoeuvre the problem, but these measures need to be immediately implemented to avoid potential social and economic losses in the New Gambia”, they urged. The government they suggest should consider purchasing brand new generators from funds that have been donated to The Gambia to replace the old machines NAWEC has in place. According To them, it should also reach out to donors and investors in the energy sector for them to find out a lasting solution to the energy supply problems Gambians have been experiencing.
According to Danso a solar panel specialist installer, wind and solar energy is a perfect option for the new Gambia to begin to explore, as all the available sources for renewable energy supply is in abundance. He noted that solar energy is safe and environmentally friendly as it does not release anything that will harm the ocean layer and helps boosts electricity independence. Danso noted that investing in solar power panels protect one against unpredictable increases in utility prices, and enjoy cheap electricity throughout the entire day as the sun will never increase its rates and it gives you energy security. Once you have solar panels up on your roof, you’ve technically reached an energy-independent status, he added.
“Your energy becomes more domestic and as a result you are in control of your own bills and energy usage, said a Lebanese national who sells solar equipment along the Kairaba Venue business highway. He said solar power systems are durable as chances of service interruption are reduced. He said when there are many of us switching to solar power the likely blackouts are less. He said the sun provides more energy than we could ever use and no one can monopolies the sunlight.