By Tabora Bojang
The managing director of Nawec has revealed that generator number 6, which was purchased 32 years ago, is still in use at its power station.
Nani Juwara told lawmakers that old generators have posed serious challenges to the company’s bid to provide reliable and affordable energy supply to Gambians because they are too old, consume a lot of fuel and lubricants and their spare parts are not available in the market.
MD Juwara and his team appeared before the Public Enterprises Committee of the National Assembly yesterday as the committee considers Nawec’s 2017, 2018, and 2019 financial and activity reports following its presentation last week.
Sandu NAM, Ebrima Jaiteh asked the team to brief the committee on plans and actions made to migrate from the reliance on generators which are considered a liability for Nawec.
Responding to these concerns, Nawec board chairman Ousman Cham, expressed that their wish was to have the resources to recondition old generators.
“Some of you would have heard that there is a generator called number 6. Anytime there is a black out in town people will blame it on this generator but this generator  has been here since 1990. Can you imagine that? And actually, it [generator 6] was from a boat that has come down here,” Cham disclosed.
Managing director Nani Juwara, who was removed from Nawec on two occasions and reinstated, told the committee that generator 6 was one of the most reliable generators in Nawec and still in operation at the Kotu power station.
“It [generator 6] has been around since 1990 and it is still operating in Kotu. As we speak right now, that generator is on fire but we cannot depend on it. So, the best thing we can do is to decommission it and we are definitely going to do that. Old generators have been the biggest challenge that we faced in the past and that has forced us to look for other options. That is why even before we take up the initiative to say we need to recondition these generators, the government has invested heavily in the OMVG project. The plans are to recondition all these [old] generators, but they are very inefficient, their fuel and the lubricant consumptions are very high and their spare parts are no longer available in the markets because they are not manufactured anymore. What we are doing is to procure from countries that commissioned some of them through suppliers,” Juwara explains.
He added that even though some of the spare parts have been purchased, they are very expensive while some are not genuine.
“We keep buying and despite the fact that we replace some components, the generators cannot be dependable anymore,” he stated.
MD Juwara however unveiled programs are on the ground to bring about a wave of new sustainable renewable energy investment that will greatly improve access and affordability.
According to Juwara, Nawec has since received funding from the European Investment Bank, EIB, World Bank and the European Union to construct a 20MW solar power plant in Jambur with the contract to be signed in the coming weeks.
He revealed that another regional renewable project under the auspices of the West Africa Energy Project is also expected to commence in the Gambia and will produce about 150MW.
“This project will be located in Jarra Soma and it is going to be open to private investors who are interested in investing in solar and they will be given opportunities to compete so that we can have value for money,” Juwara said.
5 billion debt
Finance director Betty Marong said the company’s debt portfolio stands at about D5 billion credited by the IDB through the ITFC facility and 7 other unlended loans from the government.
She said the majority of these debts are owed to the government while the other components are owed to international donors.
“Following the restructuring in 2019, we had an arrangement where 75 percent of the loans were taken off by the government. The remaining 25 percent was unlended to Nawec and so the government will finance those loans while Nawec repays the government,” she said.