By Tabora Bojang
The World Bank yesterday approved a $66 million grant to the Gambia government to support the access grid and electricity transmissions in the rural setting of the country under the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Access Project.
The signing ceremony was held at the ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs complex in Banjul and signed by Mamburay Njie on behalf of Government and Mrs. Louise Cord, the World Bank country Director.
The project will increase power capacity and transmission network of the National Water and Electricity Company to scale up its transmission and distribution networks.
Finance Minister Njie said the project is in line with the government’s national development plan and expected to change the lives of the rural household and reduce rural-urban migration.
He said the Barrow government is committed to harness the growth of the country’s energy sector to impact on the socio economic lives of the people in the rural communities, adding that this had manifested through the coming of massive rural project of roads, bridges and energy.
Louise Cord, the World Bank country Director said the Bank’s support to the energy sector is one of the central pillars with a deep policy dialogue and investment programmes to help alleviate world poverty and promote child prosperity
She said the Bank is committed to a long-term process aimed at boosting regional electricity access, building regional and national capacity strengthening to support implementation of the regional electricity access project.
According to her, the regional project that would promote international competitive bidding to allow countries involved to get the lowest prices through densification of their grids and best approaches to doing it.
Baba Fatajo, the managing Director of Nawec said; “This huge project will increase our access from 48 to 65% power coverage and this is in line with our national development plan to have a universal access by 2025.”
Fatajo added that the project would take a regional dimension under the auspices of ECOWAS regional electricity access project with its points of reference for implementation to be in Soma and Brikama sub stations respectively.
Nawec is also implementing Gambia electricity and modernisation project co-funded by the EU and World Bank at €121 million and OMVG project respectively.
The World Bank is the largest and most well known development Bank in the world, which helps the poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor lives.