COVID-19: Gabon, DR Congo pledges free water and electricity.

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Gabon and the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) have pledged to provide free water and electricity to poor populations in a bid to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

According to World Economic Forum, Sub-Saharan Africa needs a unique response to COVID-19 as the continent’s population and health systems make it different from other regions that have experienced COVID-19.

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the constant washing of hands with clean water and soap as a way to keep off the corona virus, poor populations in Africa have limited or no access to clean water.

The Gabonese Energy and Water company (Seeg) has assented to provide free water and electricity to a population of about 400,000 people, in a bid to help fight covid-19.

Seeg CEO, Alain Patrick Kouma, made public the criteria for selecting the customers who will benefit from the exceptional measure. “This is one of the measures we have taken to support populations as the coronavirus pandemic is still prevalent in Gabon,” he said.

According to the government of Gabon, 398,934 subscribers of the energy and water company will receive free water and electricity irrespective of bill payment arrears.

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“The company, which has just signed up to this measure, will have to supply free water and electricity to the inhabitants eligible for the provision, including those who are in arrears with bill payments.”

Two months of free water and electricity
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the other hand will provide free water and electricity across the country for a period of two months – according to officials.

According to DRC deputy minister of hydraulic resources and electricity, Papy Pungu, the measure will help reduce household expenses during the COVID-19 period.

The National Electricity Company (SNEL) and water supply Company Regie de Distribution d’Eau (REGIDESO) confirmed meeting with government officials and agreeing to the suggestion of providing free water and electricity across the country for the next two months.

Clement Mubiayi, the chief executive officer of REGIDESO confirmed the company’s commitment to do everything possible to supply water and electricity for free, stating that the government had promised to provide compensation for the services.

Among the beneficiaries of free water and electricity are households and small and medium-sized enterprises hit by the measures taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus.