More Gambians Will Have Access to Energy and Water

The World Bank has approved a tune of USD 43 million grant extracted from the International Development Association (IDA) for The Gambia’s electricity restoration and modernisation project (GERMP).The additional financing was made available through the reallocation of IDA18 balance, thus augmenting the Bank’s initial funding envelope for The Gambia by 20 percent.

“The people of The Gambia face many challenges in terms of access to electricity and water. Nearly 50 per cent have still no access to electricity, and in urban areas, about 69 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water,” World Bank said in a statement. The World Bank resident representative, Elene Imnadze,added that “This support will build on the ongoing efforts of the government to strengthen the electricity and water sectors, and further boost the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic through communications and targeted investments including handwashing facilities in the Greater Banjul Area.”

The senior energy specialist, Chris Trimble, who was assigned by the World Bank’s to lead a team for this task, said: “This additional grant comes at an important moment in the reform process underway. We have already seen significant improvements in the performance of the Gambia National Water & Electric Company (NAWEC). Additional resources will help to solidify these gains.”

“Further, the quality of services is weak due to frequent service outages, with some neighbourhoods not receiving water for days, weeks or even months at a time. While the NAWEC has made significant improvements in its operational and financial performance in recent years, the utility has yet to achieve financial viability. Customers still face an erratic supply of water and electricity, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The additional financing will further strengthen NAWEC’s transmission and distribution network, provide additional support to transform NAWEC into an efficient and credit-worthy utility and expand the scope of the project to the water sector. Specifically, more than 1.6 million people will have gained or improved access to electricity, 17 km of transmission lines will be constructed or rehabilitated, 20 grid-connected photovoltaic system with storage will be installed, 20 thousand water meters will be installed or replaced, and three water storage tanks will be repaired,” the statement added.

Since it was established in 1960, IDA has been helping the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. IDA’s annual commitments have averaged about USD 21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.