By Momodou Jarju
Deputies at the National Assembly have engaged the Petroleum and Energy Minister Fafa Sanyang, to explain the rationale behind power sourcing from Senegal despite the huge investment into the rural electrification project in the country.
Responding to the concern raised by Assan Touray the Bakau NAM, Minister Sanyang said this is in twofold. First, he told Members that energy from Senegal is cheaper than what is produced in the Gambia and as a result the savings made therein has enabled NAWEC to augment its operating hours in CRR and URR from 9 hours a day, to 19 hours a day.
“Secondly, energy from Senegal is available 24/7 while NAWEC can only produce less than 20 hours a day due to the high cost of production in rural areas,” he said.
Minister Sanyang who appeared before NAMs yesterday at second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2019 legislative year, was asked for a long-term solution to the rural electrification program. In response, Sanyang said they have open up the ECOWAS energy market and the country will get energy from Guinea Conakry likewise Senegal and Guinea Bissau; that they are looking at the least cost for production, saying “the cheaper we get the better.” He said right now, the tariff they sell to the public is very high and the only way they can make it cheap is to get a cheaper source for energy production. He said 70% of their cost is fuel while Senegal uses gas and have a bigger and access capacity.
Halifa Sallah, the Member for Serrekunda Constituency asked the Petroleum and Energy Minister whether there is a contingency plan to enable the country benefit from this agreement to promote sustainability in the medium or long term.
In his response, Minister Sanyang said most of the investment they are doing is on transmission; that they have increased capacity in Farafenni from 2.5 Megawatt to 5 Megawatt and they are running it like a backup; that thus this warranted for their investment.
“We cannot rely on it 100%. We also have to have a backup. So that is why we have 24/7 at any time in those places but at the same time also, the contingency plan is that while we are building our own capacity, we are having this idea of the OMVG project and getting electricity from the dam in Guinea Conakry which is cheaper,” he said. The Minister argued that the investment in the rural area right now is warranted and carefully thought of.
Emphasizing on how significant the investment is to the country, Minister Sanyang said if Senegal decides to stop supplying rural areas, they would be able to continue supplying them but this will not be 24 hours.
The Foni Berefet Member Sunkary Badjie, asked the Minister to detail the cost analysis or difference that his Ministry through NAWEC is gaining as at now, compared to before.
“I do not have the figures with me but actually before we even go to Senegal, we negotiated. We looked at our own production cost vis-à-vis how much we are going to get from Senegal and based on this, we finalized,” he said; that it is far cheaper.