Press Release

Big Lights Coming as TRANSCO CLSG Edges closer to solving Liberia’s power quagmire

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TRANSCO CLSG Edges Closer to Solving Liberia’s Power Quagmire; Transmission Towers and Substations Completion Set for December 2019

Report By: Alpha Daffae Senkpeni / alpha.senkpeni@frontpageafricaonline.com

Buchanan – It’s a sunny Monday afternoon on the outskirt of the port city of Buchanan, Julio Picado shows a group of visitors around a camp yard stockpiled with high-grade materials intended for the construction of high voltage electrical transmission line.

“So, all of these materials here are being used for the erection of the transmission towers,” says Picado, senior foreman of an European engineering joint venture firm, JV EIFFAGE-ELECNOR.

The company is one of many contracted by TRANSCO CLSG to build a high voltage 225Kv transmission line for the transmission of high-grade electricity to Liberia from Côte d’Ivoire, then to Sierra Leone and Guinea. It is a double circuit transmission line with a transit capacity of 486 MW, but equipped with an initial transit capacity of 243MW.

Massive rolls of gigantic conductors, tower materials, insulators and stringing machines – all shipped to Liberia – are spread across the compound.

The gathering of materials and equipment began since August 2017, says Picado. He adds that additional 10 containers of materials were offloaded earlier during the day.

Leading the tour of the camp yard is Mohammed Mulibah Sherif – a man with the keenest view of everything happening in the compound. He’s meticulous and inquisitive: asking critical questions about all the small details and probing further if responses appear ambiguous.

Mr. Sherif is the General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG or Transmission Company Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinée. The firm is an ECOWAS regional supranational company with the objective of financing, constructing, owning, operating, maintaining, and developing the Interconnection power line for the region.

As part of the project, a high voltage power line is being built to connect the four countries and increase the efficiency of power supply for economic growth in the region.

Mr. Sherif, a seasoned Liberian Economist, and a project manager had flown in from Abidjan to Monrovia the day before for a major mission: inspect all the works done so far on the line and substations in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.

On an inspection tour with his team of engineers and project experts in Grand Bassa County, he would later rate the progress of work done as “B+”. But outlined that the limited months of the dry season is an issue for underground engineering works for the towers.

“We tried to come up with strategies to sort of expedite the process of approvals for soil investigation and tower investigation and so forth. So, fortunately for us the engineer that is currently supervising the project beef up its team of engineering experts to approve foundation design and foundation testing for the contractors led to improvements in terms of building foundations, erecting towels as you can see,” he explains after inspecting several newly erected towers in Grand Bassa County, which connect the line to Yekepa, Nimba County.

Towers are already going up pretty fast. Eleven had been built by UTE Elecnor/EIFFAGE already while in just 10 days, the other contractor, National Construction Company of India or NCC, has erected three. The former is running the line from Yekepa to Buchanan, while the latter is connecting Buchanan to Mount Coffee and then to Bo Waterside at the Sierra Leone-Liberia boarders.

About 50 miles away from UTE’s camp yard, stands NCC’s camp, which is along the Cotton Tree-Buchanan highway. The compound is also stocked with hundreds of boxes, poles, insulators, rolls of conductors and stringing machines – meant for the construction of the other line.

The line will stretch from Yekepa to Buchanan, covering 230 kilometers with 569 towers and the other, covering 300 kilometers with 573 towers, will run from Buchanan through Margibi County to Mount Coffee and then to Bo Waterside, into Sierra Leone.

“The power will come from Cote d’Ivoire initially – the line is coming from Man to Danane, to Yekepa connecting Buchanan to Mount Coffee to Bo Waterside crossing Sierra Leone into Guinea,” Mr. Sherif explains the geographic of the line.

When completed, it will massively surpass the 88 megawatts capacity of Mount Coffee – Liberia’s main power source – and will produce a voltage capacity of 225 KV volts with a double circuit producing 486 megawatts.

“But initially equipped with a 243 megawatts transit capacity in the first circuit …; you’ll have a double circuit line (and) the first circuit is 243 megawatts. The idea now is we are thinking about concluding the second circuit at the same time concluding the first circuit so [in] total will be 486 megawatts transmission capacity,” Sherif said.

Substation on Track

Meanwhile, a couple of miles outside Buchanan along the highway, several earth-moving machines are seen parked on a 10 acre of land already compacted and neatly landscaped.

Several trenches filled with concrete and steels are visible. Excavation works have been ongoing for the past weeks. Caution signs are erected, restricting the movements of anyone visiting.

This is where one of five substations will be built. The substations are the points where the power running through the lines will be connected across the country, according to the engineers.

Four substations, funded by the German Development Bank or KFW, were earlier approved before the fifth one – to be built in Botota, Bong County – was finalized by the current Government of Liberia and will also be funded by KFW, according to the TRANSCO CLSG boss.

“Initially, we had four: Yekepa, Buchanan, Mount Coffee, and Bo Waterside but then the question came about, what will happen with central Liberia?” said Mr. Sherif, recalling negotiations leading to the approval of the fifth substation.

“Because where you don’t have substation the issue of connection is difficult, you cannot connect to the line. What happens to the people in central Liberia – Lofa, Bong County and so forth? So we decided to work with the previous government to begin the conversation; to get the fifth substation.

“When that conversation began, we got in principle acceptance that yes the fifth substation will come, then came the current government – Samuel Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning with his support – we were able to finalize it and we signed the grant agreement with the KFW – 18 million Euros for the fifth substation.”

Seiyuan, the Chinese engineering firm hired to construct the facilities, is fast-tracking the work to meet up with the timeline. Everything appears to be happening simultaneously.

Just about a mile or two away from the under-construction substation, UTE ELECNOR/EIFFACE and NCC engineers are busy erecting more towels on the two separate sites.

They are confident that beginning December 2019 up to March 2020, the line and substations in Liberia will be completed.

“Our project is based on what we planned and what we are working toward is to have the line and substations commissioned in Liberia beginning December 2019,” explains Mohammed Sow, TRANSCO CLSG engineering and contract specialist.

“In particular, we are expected to do phase commissioning where you’ll have a section that are completed and commissioned. This means, commissioning of substations is expected in July 2019 and September 2019 while commissioning of the line will begin in by December 2019. Our target to complete the entire project in the four countries is first quarter of 2020.”

Synergy Impacting Project 

The cooperation amongst all major players of the energy sector in the country is steering the progress, says Jerry Taylor, Transco CLSG Country Manager for Liberia, who was also inspecting the ongoing civil works.

Mr. Taylor reckons that despite “bureaucracy at some level” all hands are on deck including the governments.

“We meet once a month specifically on the CLSG project to ensure that those little things that hinder are taken care of. If we have a hindrance on the field, if someone is blocking, we find solutions,” he said.

“Everybody is involved in it – the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Labor and if we have to bring people in, like experts, because we have lots of expatriates on the ground who are working within the framework of the project and they come in on gratis, we don’t have any problem with how they get their visas.”

With the support of the government, the project is hitting new heights showing the prospect of easing Liberia’s economic woes, which will be influenced by stable and affordable power.

‘Tremendous’ Economic Prospect

The project is expected to enhance regional power supply and spur economic growth in the four countries, and Mr. Sherif predicts that it will have a “tremendous impact” on Liberia’s economy.

“First, it is an opportunity for rural electrification – we are going to provide that for the rural communities – those that the project will be impacting. When you take it from Buchanan all the way to Yekepa, villages along the way will benefit from the rural electrification component through a technology called the Shield-wire system,” he said.

He says villagers will be able to preserve their farm produce and school-going children will have access to electricity to facilitate their educational activities while health centers in rural Liberia will get connected.

At the same time, macroeconomic growth will expand both in the real sector, thereby impacting revenue generation for the government while there will be a significant cut in production cost for companies in the country.

For example, the TRANSCO CLSG boss predicts that corporations currently paying high tariff per kilowatts/hour will be paying affordable tariff that will increase their profit margins which ultimately spur economic growth and developments

“There will be a significant cut down into your overhead and when that happens your profit jumps up, and when there is corporate profit, the common expectation is that corporate income tax to government will increase and that in itself will spur economic growth and there is this trickle-down impact on the ordinary people,” he said; while also forecasting that employment rate is expected to grow, companies expected to expand and major plants are likely to open in the country given the presence of the affordable and high capacity voltage CLSG electric energy to absorb larger manufacturing firms.

“So, that in itself is a signal to tell the international community that we mean business…, affordable electricity can help us attract foreign direct investment.”

More Power Source

Several experts have already pointed to the high cost of power and how it is impeding Liberia’s economic growth. Others say most foreign firms eyeing the country are wary of the high cost of buying and maintaining generators.

The presence of Mount Coffee’s 88 megawatts is just a drop in the bucket for any major manufacturing plant. And the TRANSCO CLSG boss is cognizant that cheap, stable and reliable power is the engine for any economic growth.

He predicts that small and medium enterprises would grow steadily with the presence of TRANSCO CLSG line and substations.

“For example,” he explains, “In Buchanan, we will have a substation there with 33Kv, and 225 Kv, right there any major company on an industrial scale can open in Buchanan, so right there we can connect anybody. Now, LEC [will have] an opportunity to do more transmission and distribution, that means to do more connection at the household level.”

According to the plan, through the line Liberia Electricity Corporation will have more power for transmission and distribution.

TRANSCO CLSG will bring in the electricity to the substations while LEC would sell to customers based on a transmission service agreement with TRANSCO CLSG and Power Purchase Agreement with Cote D’Ivoire. This means the amount of power purchased will be transmitted through the substations and LEC will offtake it from the substations and distribute to customers.

“Assuming there’s a factory in Buchanan that wants electricity, they’ll go through LEC and if they want 50 megawatts, LEC will get that amount of megawatts through our line and get it to them,” he said.

“However, the new energy sector regulations in Liberia also provides the opportunity for big companies to go directly and sign Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with any independent producer – that means – they can use our line.

“For example, RIA [Roberts international Airport] or Mittal steel can buy electricity from a private power producer – they will just use our line and bring it directly to their plant, according to the new energy regulations.”

The availability of additional power generation in Liberia would also give Liberia the leverage to sell to other countries in the region, he said. The current studies by the World Bank on the St. Paul Riven Basin (VIA Dam) in Liberia provide such opportunity.

Mr. Sheriff says “regional interconnection is a big project” for the country to lure investors to the region, and there will be “confidence in terms of regional security, economic security, power security (because) power security is economic security – power security is human security, poverty security and that’s why they say we are coming to connect lights to the lives of the people.”

 

CLSG project a winner – says Minister Jusu Saffa

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Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 4, 2019: Stable and secure electricity is an imperative for national governments, both for basic household needs and for industrial progress and overall economic growth, the Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone has said.

Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa told the visiting General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mohammed M. Sherif during a courtesy call on his Freetown office on Thursday, January 3, 2019 that the CLSG interconnection brings enormous optimism to Sierra Leone’s quest to become a powerhouse in the energy sector.

The CLSG project is a winner,” he declared, pointing to the CLSG project line route map during a discussion with the General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG. The outspoken Minister of Finance was thrilled following a briefing by the TRANSCO CLSG General Manager on the economic and other benefits associated with the CLSG project.

Minister Saffa said the government of Sierra Leone is making sure major Districts in Sierra Leone are provided electricity, adding that the CLSG transmission line is going to provide that accessibility to link the entire country.

The Minister underscored the importance of electricity as a fundamental input in the modern world. He said the government of Sierra Leone is going to invest more into the sector to ensure the delivery of stable and affordable electricity to the people of Sierra Leone. “Energy security is an increasingly important consideration for us (Sierra Leoneans),” he said.

Minister Saffa said the government will be holding a Roundtable conference on energy in Freetown shortly as he extended an invitation to the General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG to attend and present the economics and other social economic benefits of the CLSG project.

Earlier, the General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mr. Sherif briefed the Minister on the progress of the CLSG project implementation across the four beneficiary countries including Sierra Leone. He also used the occasion to thank the government of Sierra Leone for its unwavering supports to the implementation of the project.

Mr. Sherif emphasized that electricity constitutes the critical infrastructure of any nations including Sierra Leone and that the CLSG project will provide the much-needed relief. He told Minister Saffa that the CLSG project brings along with it a sense of national security and public safety as schools and health centers as well as homes, etc would be connected.

“Electricity is one of the basic needs that governments must provide to its people and we are here to ensure that happens,” the General Manager assured.

Earlier, the General Manager paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Energy, Hon. Kanja Sesay, who also reaffirmed his country’s unwavering commitment to the CLSG project. Minister Sesay disclosed that Sierra Leoneans are eagerly awaiting the coming of the CLSG interconnection line to boost more economic activities across the country. He said his ministry along with other key government entities will work relentlessly to ensuring that the CLSG project is implemented unimpeded.

 

 

Take ownership of the CLSG project – GM tells workers

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Makeni, Sierra Leone, Monday, December 31, 2018: The General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mr. Mohammed M. Sherif along with his team today visited several construction sites in Makeni, the largest city in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, as part of his CLSG project sites tour in the four beneficiary countries.

In the areas visited, the EPC contractor, KALPATARU has erected several transmission towers along the Lot #4 corridor from Bikongor to Yiben, while more tower foundations are being built.

During the tour, the General Manager met with scores of native Sierra Leoneans who have been hired by the Contractors to implement the CLSG project. As he enumerated the vast benefits that come with the CLSG interconnection project, Mr. Sherif challenged the workers to take ownership of the project for its successful implementation.

The General Manager added: “Ownership means you care about the success of the project. You’re not just coming to work every day and collect paychecks at the end of the month, but I want you to take responsibility and attach value in the quality of work you do.”

Mr. Sherif continued that taking ownership is not just doing a job, or working on a project, it means making it your assignment to see it through. I want this project succeed. So, take it as your project and we all will succeed. Once you own it, we will succeed and when we succeed, your villages will succeed. This is just the beginning…”

The General Manager said the CLSG project will benefit villages along the transmission line that is being constructed across from Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. “I am happy to see you all. Even though TRANSCO CLSG is the owner of the transmission line, it is you who are the owners of the line. You need to know that this line will be passing through your communities and it will benefit your communities economically and socially, etc.”

The General Manager used the occasion to thank the EPC contractors for keeping the CLSG project implementation on track.

SEE PICTURES by Sidiki Trawally

 

GM Inspects construction sites in Liberia, thanks GoL for solid support

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Monrovia, Liberia, December 26, 2018: The General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mohammed M. Sherif has paid high-profile visits to several CLSG project construction sites in Liberia. He will continue his inspection tour of other project sites in the Republic of Guinea shortly.

While in Liberia, Mr. Sherif on Monday, December 24, 2018, visited the transmission line corridor under construction by EPC contractor, Elecnor Effiage in Grand Bassa County. He also visited a substation site near the port city of Buchanan, which is being constructed by EPC contractor, Seiyuan. The General Manager also on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 visited another substation being constructed by Seiyuan at the Mount Coffee hydroelectric plant in Montserrado County.

During the visits, the General Manager saw, firsthand, physical construction activities within the Buchanan-Monrovia corridor. Several transmission towers have been erected and foundation works for the substations ongoing. Mr. Sherif thanked the EPC contractors for the level of development achieved in the implementation of the CLSG project in Liberia.

Seiyuan is the contractor that is responsible for building substations – the points which various connections will be made. Elecnor/Effiafe and NCC are EPC contractors responsible for the construction of transmission line stretch of 530 kilometers.

“I am impressed,” an elated General Manager declared following the visits. He assured the contractors TRANSCO CLSG’s fullest cooperation in the implementation of the CLSG project. “We will work with you to ensure full implementation. Our people are patiently waiting for this…”

Pictures by Sidiki Trawally

The General Manager on the last day of his mission met and briefed the Minister of Finance for Economic Development and Planning on the implementation of the CLSG project. He thanked the Government and people of Liberia for their unwavering supports towards the implementation of the CLSG project and for approving the fifth substation that would be constructed in central Liberian town of Botota, Bong County.

“I must give credit to this current government for the fifth one. The Minister of Finance – with his support – we were able to finalize the fifth substation given by the KFW (German Bank) and I must tell you that KFW – the German Development Bank – they are the ones financing the substations in Liberia.”

The Minister on his part assured the GM of the Government of Liberia’s unflinching support and urge the GM to continue to expedite the implementation of the project, as the need to bring affordable electricity to the people of Liberia cannot be overemphasized.

 

 

Access Roads linking villages in the CLSG project corridors

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Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, December 24, 2018: Access Roads in the CLSG project corridor are creating enabling environment for villages along the routes. The General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mohammed M. Sherif on Monday, December 24, 2018 visited the CLSG project Lot # 1 transmission line corridor in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, where EPC contractors, Elecnor Effiage is constructing several transmission towers.

Along the route, it was observed that some of the villages that dot the rural landscape that were extremely isolated as no roads connected them to the main highway to the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County are now connected by the access roads. These villages were not accessible by car, so residents had to walk through the bushes, sometimes very long distances, to go to school or see a doctor in the port city. Building this link has given the residents access to the outside world.

The villagers said they felt abandoned and ignored, but with the construction of the roads in these rough terrains by the EPC contractors, who are implementing the CLSG project in the county, they are elated. Now they can have access to other communities including schools and health centers by means of motorcars or bikes.

From the first village called Peter Hill Town, where the access road begins to the second nearby villages, namely Daniel Dumba town and Saweh Town, residents are grateful for the opening of the roads. According to them, they wanted help in building a road for a long time.

See photos below by Sidiki Trawally

 

 

Tower parts being shipped to Sierra Leone for CLSG project

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Ahmedabad, India, Tuesday, December 11, 2018: As part of the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) activities, the General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, accompanied by his team was on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, taken on an inspection tour of one of the manufacturing plants operated by EPC Contractors, KALPATARU Power Transmission Limited (KPTL) in Gandhinagar (Gujarat, India).

During the tour led by KPTL VP for production, Dharmesh R. Mahant, Mr. Mohammed M. Sherif and team including the Director of Finance and Administration, Jigba J. Yilla, Engineering and Contract Specialist Mohammed Sow, Communication Officer, Sidiki Trawally and Viralkumar R. Shah, representing the Owner’s Engineer (TRACTABEL), assessed tons of transmission tower parts made of galvanized steels, ready for shipment to Sierra Leone for the Lot #4 transmission Line segment from Bikongor to Bumbuna and Yiben. Lot #4 is being implemented by KPTL.

The manufacturing plant has state-of-the-art fabrication equipment such as CNC machines, drilling machines and EOT cranes. The Company takes pride in its well-trained, skilled and specialized engineers and technicians as well as well-defined testing equipment and an established quality assurance plan offering international standard quality product.

Good news for CLSG project

An elated TRANSCO CLSG General Manager is pleased with the development in the implementation of the CLSG interconnection project. He expressed confidence in the ability of the EPC Contractors to deliver quality work thereby connecting light to the lives of the people in the beneficiary countries and beyond. “This is good news for the CLSG project,” the General Manager said as he posed for a photograph with the consignment.

Related article: Factory Acceptance Test ongoing in China, India

As one of the industry leaders in the power transmission business, KPTL provides end-to-end solution ranging from in-house designs, testing, procurement, fabrication, erection, installing and commissioning of power transmission lines. KPTL has its own Tower testing and R&D station near Gandhinagar which has sophisticated and state of art equipment.

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE FAT TOUR

According to company officials, the Testing station has a capacity of testing of testing up to 800 KV of Double Circuit Tower and 1200 KV of Single Circuit Tower, with 30×30 meters of base width and 85 meters of height.

It’s on this site that KPTL successfully tested the 225KV tower types for the CLSG project. The company’s strength is in its in-house R&D that is backed by a multi-disciplinary team of specialized engineers, sophisticated software and hardware facilities that provide value-added integrated engineering services for clients as part of comprehensive EPC services.

 

Factory Acceptance Test ongoing in China, India

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Abidjan, CI, Thursday, December 6, 2018: The General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG, Mohammed M. Sherif, accompanied by the Director of Finance and Administration, Josephus Jigba Yilla, is in China for Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) for the Optical Phase Conductor (OPPC) and Hardware fittings for OPPC.

The FAT is being carried out by TRANSCO CLSG along with the EPC Contractor, KALPATARU Power Transmission Limited, which is responsible for Lot #4 Transmission Line segment from Bikongor to Bumbuna and Yiben in Sierra Leone. The FAT is being conducted at ZTT Factory in Nantong, China from December 5-7, 2018.

The General Manager and team will continue the FAT in India during the week to inspect transmission towers and other equipment for the CLSG project in Sierra Leone. Stay tuned

See pictures below:

 

CLSG project Construction activities in pictures

ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:

Pit marking of transmission towers, elevation and slope checkup for towers, 40-meter corridor bush clearing, check survey for towers, as well as physical checking of tower positions and raising chimney for towers, among others.

Liberia – Photo courtesy of EPC Contractors, NCC

Sierra Leone – Photo courtesy: EPC Contractors, KALPATARU

More Equipment Arrive for CLSG Project in Liberia

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Abidjan, CI, Tuesday, November 20, 2018: Thirty-four containers containing equipment for the implementation of the CLSG interconnection project has arrived in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, Liberia.

EPC Contractors, Bouygues Energies and Services BES brought in the equipment including conductors, Transmission Line (TL) cables, among other for operations within the Man – Yekepa to Nzerekore Lot #1 201km transmission line corridor funded by the African Development Bank.

Bouygues Energies and Services BES have completed 26km out of the 36 km from Yekepa Substation Station to Ivory coast border for physical identification and marking of the Right of Way corridor.

Photos by Germain Paye, Social Safeguard Assistant, Liberia