FACT-CHECK: Did Adama Barrow Cut Power Cuts from 19 to 3 Times a Day in His First Term?

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Adama Barrow speaks to local and international journalists after casting his vote in Banjul on December 4, 2021 (Photo Credit: Modou S. Joof)
Adama Barrow speaks to local and international journalists after casting his vote in Banjul on December 4, 2021 (Photo Credit: Modou S. Joof)

Claim: We were able to bring down power cuts from 19 times a day to 3 times a day

Source: Adama Barrow

Verdict: FALSE

For the first time in 3 years, president-elect Adama Barrow engaged journalists at the State House on December 7- his last press conference was in August 2018. It was also his first press conference since winning the December 4 presidential elections with 53% of total votes cast.

During the media engagement (7:03), the Gambian leader, touting his achievements, in his first five-year term, said he has reduced frequent power cuts from 19 times a day in 2017 to 2 times a day in 2021.

Barrow came to power in 2017, defeating a long-term ruler Yahya Jammeh who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

 Claims

In a press conference with journalists at State House on December 7, Barrow attributed his election success to his achievements in improving energy supply in the country.

“Electricity when I was coming, according to even the World Bank, the electricity on and off would go 17 to 19 times a day,” said Barrow.

“We were able to bring it down to 2 to 3 times a day…I think that’s why the Gambians came out in large numbers – about 90 percent of Gambians voted in this election.”

Fact check

At the beginning of 2017 towards 2018, NAWEC’s power supply was at its lowest ebb, prompting a protest called #OccupyWestfield. The national energy company reacted to the poor power supply with two short-term measures.

The national energy company signed a power purchase agreement with SENELEC—a Senegalese energy company—to give electricity supply to the North Bank and Lower River Regions. The energy company also entered into another power purchase agreement with Karpowership, a Turkey-based company, for supply of 30 MW of energy.

According to the World Bank— sponsored Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernization Project, Gambia’s installed capacity of the grid was 99 MW (of which 88 MW was in Greater Banjul Area [GBA]) as of 2018. This was an improvement from 2017 when the available capacity in the GBA deteriorated to 44 MW.

Now, despite the continuous poor energy situation, according to the national energy strategic roadmap developed by the energy ministry, as of mid-2021, the total net installed capacity  of NAWEC is 154.5 MW of reciprocating engines, but only 97.0 MW are currently available for power generation.

The available data has shown that energy supply has stabilized, significantly, under president Barrow. The World Bank data which is also quoted in the national energy strategic roadmap developed by the Energy Ministry shows blackouts within the Greater Banjul Area in the country have also reduced.

For example, the Gambia witnessed 36 blackouts a month in 2017, 45 blackouts a month in 2018, 25 blackouts a month in 2019, 12 blackouts a month in 2020 and 11 blackouts a month in 2021.

Malagen has reached out to the World Bank asking for their report which accounts for the frequency of electricity outage in the Gambia from 2016 to 2021. The World Bank said they do not have any such report data. We also reached out to National Water and Electricity Company but the energy company’s spokesperson, Pierre Silva, said he does not have any yearly data which accounts for frequency of power outage in the country.

Meanwhile, we have shared our research with the State House press office but we have not gotten a response.

Verdict: the claim is FALSE

 

  • Researched by Mustapha K. Darboe

 

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