- Households and the business environment in Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia are increasingly plagued by frequent power outages, to such a degree that it has become a top political issue. Now, technicians from the Gambia River Basin Development Organisation, OMVG, promise that a "final solution" to the regional energy crisis is in sight.
The OMVG has presented a report on its progress at a seminar held by the Gambian Department of State for Water Resources in Banjul, 'The Point' reports. Efforts to find a permanent solution to the chronic energy deficit in the three countries and Guinea-Bissau were "at an advanced stage," the OMVG report promised.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Justino Viera, Executive Secretary of OMVG, had disclosed that one of the hydroelectric stations situated in Sambangalou, Senegal, has an installed capacity of 128 MW, while the other in Kaleta in Guinea has an installed capacity of 240 MW, according to 'The Point' reporters Madi Nije and Bakary Samateh. An interconnection between the national electricity networks of the countries was also close to be completed, Mr Viera said.
The four countries grouped in the OMVG have experienced increasing problems satisfying the growing demand for electricity in their growing economies. Except for the large Gambia River Basin project, few investments have been made on a regional basis.
In several countries, the deteriorating electricity supply has even led to political complications. In The Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh has declared the energy sector a number-one priority and after firing several responsible ministers, he himself took over the Energy Ministry earlier this year, promising quick improvements. So far, President Jammeh has not been able to deliver.
In Senegal, which is heading towards a tough election campaign over the 2007 presidential polls, President Abdoulaye Wade has faced much criticism for the failure to secure electricity supply. Urban centres of Senegal, as in The Gambia, have become used to a relatively stable power supply over the last decades, but Dakar households and businesses have been shaken by a growing number of outages this year, creating anti-Wade sentiments before the polls.
In Guinea Conakry and Guinea-Bissau, on the other hand, a very unstable power supply for decades has crippled businesses and hindered investments. For the two countries, the OMVG could mean real and measurable steps forward to investments and economic growth.
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