By: Ousman Jatta
Residents of Farafenni Mauritani Layout in the North Bank Region of The Gambia have been lamenting the lack of electricity and water for more than two decades as they continue to face the absence of essential utility services, making life difficult in the area.
In the center of a teeming metropolis in the country’s famous North Bank, Farafenni Mauritani is directly connected to the towns business district with trading spurred by proximity to the border with Senegal, but the lack of crucial amenities such as access to drinking water and electricity supply, coupled with poor living conditions is making the area less conducive and increasingly challenging for residents.
Mauritania residents access drinking water from open wells. When these wells occasionally dry up, women are left alone to forage for water, which is constantly needed for domestic use and sanitation.
When living conditions worsen, residents who can afford it pay donkey drivers or tricycle riders to go inside the town with twenty liters of gallons to fetch water.
Mariama Jobe is among the increasingly frustrated residents of Mauritania facing a community-wide problem severely affecting their lives.
“We do not have clean drinking water and electricity. When the sun sets, we do not feel safe to send our children to the nearest shop,” Mariama decried.
According to the privacy shield network, The Gambia’s total installed electricity capacity is just over 100 megawatts (MW), with actual generation levels at approximately 40MW in one of Africa’s lowest energy output capacities.
With Local excess demand levels currently at 50 MW, national electricity officials know they need to meet required needs. They are stuck in a tricky balancing act of load shedding, sharing electricity supply with frequent outages.
Nationwide, approximately 42 percent of Gambians have access to electricity, leaving significant room for growth in the energy market to bolster economic activity throughout the country.
Sarjo Mbaye, another concerned resident of Farafenni, Mauritania, called on the authorities and all key stakeholders to put the right resources together to ensure they get access to electricity and clean drinking water.
The impact of the lack of electricity is evident in the performance of school-going children of Farafenni Mauritania, who struggle daily to burn the midnight candle to make good grades.
These frustrated residents are appealing to philanthropists, the government, and private sector organizations to come to their aid.
Despite international and local funding, the Small West nation’s National Water and Electricity Company (Nawec) still needs to meet the national demand for electricity and water. The Gambia has one of the highest electricity tariffs in the West African sub-region.
The nation has committed to ambitious plans in the near term, including President Barrow’s desire to achieve universal electrical access by 2025 and a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions in alignment with the 2015 Paris Accords.
However, the country still heavily depends on fuel for electricity generation.
This dependency has continued despite a formulated renewable energy policy, maintaining pressure on the national economy and ensuring a weak balance of payments.
“Low access to energy has implications on health, education, poverty reduction, and sustainable development, says a UNCTAD report entitled “Commodities at a glance: Special issue on access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa,” published on 21 March.
The report also warns that without additional efforts, the region’s population without access to clean fuels could increase from 923 million people in 2020 to over 1.1 billion people in 2030.
It could be recalled that the Team GomSaBopa pressure group Movement stage a protest against the National Water and Electricity (NAWEC) due to people’s dissatisfaction with the electricity and water company’s new energy tariffs.
Madi Jorbateh, a human rights activist, expressed dismay at the new water and electricity tariffs of the National energy company NAWEC. Mr. Jorbateh described the new tariffs as unjustified.