Ending a Century of Darkness: Rural Electrification Reaches Medina Sering Mass
Medina Sering Mass, a northern Gambian community, is a well-known village that has been existing for close to a century, or even more without electricity – just like many rural Gambian communities. But the natives are today in jubilation after the ongoing-rural electrification project ended the darkness and got them into business ventures that need electricity supply.
The objective of the project is to encourage economic growth and improve the social conditions in the country by providing continuous power supply to villages thereby contributing to the reduction of poverty and reduce rural-urban migration.
Funded by the African Development Bank, the project started since the previous government when many rural communities were lightened up. Although electric poles were erected in Medina by then, they have to wait until the previous government supplied them power.
“We are very happy. Now we have our refrigerators and doing some petty businesses. It really helps us a lot. Before, we used to spend all our money buying batteries for our lamps to be able to see at night but we’re no more experiencing that” Haddy Gassama, a native of the village told The Chronicle.
For Mustapha Sarr, electricity is something anyone would want to have, stating that, for more than 100 years of their village’s existence, 2020 becomes their happiest moment.
“We used to sit here just like that and anything we needed such as cold water; we have to get it all the way from Karang. Now even those who were selling cold water from Karang are no longer coming.
“Over 300 homes are in Medina Sering Mass and each compound used to buy ice blocks every day for D50 dalasi. Now that we have the means, we are just thanking God for it. And it’s improving our wellbeing. The hot conditions we were leaving in without easy access to cold water was extreme,” Sarr said.
Awa Leigh used to buy pairs of batteries for her lamp before the electrification of the community. But now, when it’s 7pm, she would just need to switch on the power.
“Before we had electricity, we were living in hardship. We wanted something we couldn’t have. We were not having electricity; we couldn’t watch TV to know what’s going on in the country. But now thank God. Though it’s not long since we started having electricity but we are now aware of the things going on in the world. We are watching TV and drinking cold water and our bodies are now fresh,” she rejoices.
However, a section of the community is still without access to electricity in their homes. They were told that only those whose houses are close to the poles by 40 meters will have it and they continue to expect it in the second phase of the project.
Shopkeeper Modou Gaye is one of the residents of Medina who do not have electricity wired in his home.
“We are not supplied yet but we are hoping to be connected soon and we are happy for others that have. Development starts with electricity, water and roads.”
The village Alkalo, Mass Kah, has appealed to the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) to connect the rest of the compounds with electricity.