Gambia cuts electricity cost

By Kemo Cham
The Ministry of Energy in Gambia has announced a sudden cut in cost of electricity, with immediate effect. In a statement issued by the ministry late Wednesday, January 20, 2010, the Gambian government, in an effort to accelerate the country’s chances of meeting key goals, specifically the UN Millennium Development Goals and the country’s own home-tailored Vision 2020 blueprints, decided to cut down the price for electricity to make it more affordable. According to the statement, electricity for industrial and commercial consumption has been reduced by a significant 10%, while that for domestic use has been chopped off by 5%. This development is said to be one of a number of initiatives to be taken by government after its recent three day ‘retreat’, which brought together the entire government in Banjul to Kanilai, the birth village of Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh, about 80km from the capital. This development is surely going to be welcomed by many as electricity, which has become popular among an increasing number of Gambians, thanks to a boost in the business and industrial sectors, has been expensive for the average citizen, especially the rural folks. Many had been wondering the essence of the government’s rural electrification program when it is clear that very few can afford it among the mainly rural poor. Even though this reduction is clearly not driven by an urge to lessen that burden on the rural population, considering the proportion of reduction, 10% to 5% for businesses and individuals, it will no doubt go a long way in making electricity affordable to more people. The government has repeatedly said that energy forms a key part of its priority list, and a number of generators have been acquired as part of this effort over the few years. It could be recalled that Yahya Jammeh ordered a three-day retreat of the entirety of his cabinet plus key policy makers in the form of permanent secretaries. According to official statement then, the main agenda of that meetnawec1ing was centred on ‘achieving the Vision 2020 in light of the countdown to 2020’. President Jammeh, who described that gathering as the first of its kind, was quoted by government run media as warning that with only nine years at their disposal as government, there would be no compromise for laxity in effort towards meeting the goals of the much talked about Vision 2020. ‘‘Whereas in the past 15 years we may have  had the luxury of dragging our feet, this time around we have no time, and time is not on our side,’’ he was quoted by the Daily Observer. ‘‘With regards to working to achieve the vision and the objectives that Gambians set for themselves to make this country one of the greatest on earth, there will be no compromise,’’ Jammeh warned, prompting speculations that the government must be far behind in it progress, and so for fear of being unable to make it, the Gambian leader was employing what he knows best, threatening a government that is surely dominated by inexperienced and clearly negligent people, a situation that has largely been responsible for many of his noticeable failures. In a recent interview on GRTS, Jammeh categorically dodged a particular question by Kebba Dibba, saying, ‘‘I have learnt my lessons with the ‘Silicon Valley project.’ This is a project that was supposed to see the creation of a specially identified zone with high-tech and industrial development undertakings. Abdoulie John contributed to this story.

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