NAWEC announced its determination to increase water and electricity tariffs by about 36% for domestic electricity consumers and 18% for water and sewerage consumers by the second week of April 2023.
However, many have blamed NAWEC for this decision to hike the tariffs, but who should be accused of this decision?
The increase in utility tariffs can result from various factors such as inflation, the rising cost of production, inefficient operations, and lack of investment in infrastructure. However, in most cases, the government and the utility company are responsible for any price hike.
The government may be held liable for its poor economic policies that lead to inflation and depreciation of the national currency. For instance, if the government fails to control the rising cost of imports, especially fuel, and energy, it will ultimately translate into higher consumer tariffs; this is the birth of the 2023 tariff increment.
On the other hand, the utility company may also be to blame for unreasonable tariff increases. If this company is not transparent in its pricing policies and charges, it may be seen as exploiting consumers. In addition, if they operate inefficiently or fail to invest in infrastructure, this could lead to higher tariffs, but is this even the case for NAWEC?
To be fair enough to the utility company, amid an increase in prices cost of production such as fuel and lubricants, spare parts, and other direct consultancy services related to operations and an increase in foreign currency exchange rates for the trading currencies, this limits the utility company to scale up its production due to cash flow problems.
However, the government has a role in protecting the utility company from failure to provide services to the public; this may be the position of The Government. The decision to keep the utility company in operation must not harm the lives and livelihood of the citizens. Therefore, the government could limit the impact of the tariff increase by subsiding the percentage increase on the new tariff. Will the government do this?
In conclusion, the government and utility companies may be responsible for any price hike.
The utility tariff will increase come 10th April; below are some measures you can employ to reduce your electricity bills:
1. Energy-efficient appliances
Most consumers in The Gambia need to consider the labeling of energy consumption of appliances when buying, and as a result, may end up buying appliances that are not energy efficient. These appliances might cost you more money in the long run than energy-efficient ones.
For example, if you buy an electric iron costing D600 for 500Wths instead of a D1,000 electric iron for 150wths, you will save the cost of D42.806 a month for a 12-hour usage month. (D10.43*500*12=62.58 (D10.43*150*12=18.774). If such savings are annualized on 20 bulbs, it can lead to savings of D10,000 per annum.
Similarly, with a more efficient electric iron, you save a cost of D513.67 a year, so assuming the useful life of the iron is three years, you will save an amount of D1,541.02. However, the initial cost of a more efficient appliance may be costly, but it protects you more money and energy in the long run.
2. Pay attention to your appliances when leaving your home.
Have you ever left your home and needed to remember to switch off your appliances? If yes, you are not alone in this. Many of us will leave our homes, leaving our televisions, overhead bulbs, and other devices on. This can cost you a lot of money, especially if your appliances could be more energy efficient. For example, if you are using a bulb of 60wths, leaving your home for about 7 hours while this bulb is switched on, you have just wasted D4.34/day and 420whts/day of energy. In a month, if you continue to behave in such a manner with just one bulb, you will spend D130.28 monthly and D1,563.41 annually on single bulb consumption.
Building designs to suit energy needs. If your house is built so that even during the daytime, your room gets dark, you need to switch on your bulbs. Therefore, you should consider energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design when buildings. For example, you should create more windows to create lighting in the rooms during the daytime so that you can switch off the bulbs during the day. It would help if you also considered using roofing materials to keep the rooms cool during hot seasons; hence this will lower your demand for electricity consumption as you might not need an electric fan and Air conditioners during the peak period.
4. Use of Smart Technologies
Most homes have bulbs all over their building; usually, these bulbs will be switched on at night. Therefore, consider using intelligent bulbs that automatically switch on and off when a human movement is detected. This could save you a lot of energy during the night.