Culled from FrontpageAfricaonline.com
MONROVIA – A team from the European Union on Tuesday inspected the TRANSCO CLSG substation in Grand Bassa County which it intends to use to feed a distribution network for the supply of electricity to Buchanan city and other southeastern cities.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica in Buchanan, the head of cooperation at the European Union in Liberia, Theododorus Kaspers, said “The agreement is signed for a total of US$42 million and it is supposed to bring electricity to a number of cities in the Southeast – Buchanan, Barclayville and Greenville in particular and in principle extend electricity to cities which are already being which are already being served from the lines across the border – Cote d’Ivoire.”
He said cities like Harper in Maryland County, Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Tappita in Nimba County would all benefit from the distribution network.
He said though the original plan to get private sector involvement in the distribution may not be feasible, the EU would still go ahead with the distribution in Buchanan, Barclayville and Greenville while finding means to get the private sector involved.
“It is important for us in support of the energy sector to engage with the private sector. In all countries in the world, you see a transformation from government-run entities to private sector; so, we need to find ways to attract the private sector in those cities to operate,” he said.
About 11,000 households are expected to benefit from the programme in Buchanan City.
Also speaking to FrontPageAfrica, the country manager for Transco CLSG in Liberia, Jerry Taylor, said the Buchanan substation is one of five substations built by TRANSCO CLSG project for the supply of power from Cote d’Ivoire to all parts of Liberia.
“The EU called us that there is funding for not only the backbone but also for the distribution of electricity for the city of Buchanan and this is where we come in because we are responsible for the substation in Buchanan,” he said.
He said the substation would be energized in April this year.
South-eastern Liberia has been on the margin of development, especially when it comes to road connectivity and electricity which are considered as the some of the main drivers of development. The objective of the EU programme, according to the agreement, is to stimulate socio-economic development and thereby improve the living conditions of the rural population, prioritizing the South-East of Liberia. It aims to achieve this objective by increasing access to reliable and affordable renewable-energy-based electricity. The programme attempts to catalyze private sector investment in the development of electricity mini-grids.
The main outcomes of the action will be that electricity is widely available and used by people in the selected main settlements of the South-East of Liberia for productive, commercial and residential purposes as well as for the delivery of basic services (as health and education) and that the licensees or commercial operators active in the targeted areas are operating in a gender sensitive way according to their contracts, following best practice and are set on a growth trajectory.
The programme provides technical assistance and applies two support modalities for private sector investments in and operation of mini-grids.
A gender analysis, undertaken by external consultants during the period November 2017 – March 2018, has concluded that the social dimensions of energy provision need to be addressed in order to reach the overall objective of contributing to poverty reduction. To achieve this, the approach under this action will be two-fold: i) implementation of a number of gender sensitive measures, including but not limited to ensuring quotas for women in employment opportunities and inclusion of women in project structures, and ii) development of a gender component which will prepare women, primarily through training and economic empowerment activities, to fully capitalize on the energy to be provided. The gender component will be implemented under a Service contract. Any investment in skills training will closely complement EU existing efforts under the 11th EDF TVET programme.
There will also be gender sensitive training and capacity building to ensure that the arrival of electricity translates into poverty reduction and improved wellbeing of women, men, girls and boys living in the targeted areas. The TORs for tendering these services are available.
Women in Liberia continue to miss out on opportunities and lack participation in management and decision-making positions at all levels of the society. Despite overall having almost an equal share of the labour force, they are very under-represented in terms of paid employment as women hold only 24% of paid jobs and earn less than 70% of men. Women are more likely to be vulnerably employed in the informal sector and agriculture and they make up 60% of the workforce in rural areas in Liberia. The prevalence of women in the low skilled labour informal economy is associated in part with low literacy levels: women and girls continue to have limited access to education (33% of women are literate compared to 62% of men). Child marriage and violence against women, including female genital mutilation, remain of serious concern.
The programme will also help to reduce these barriers by providing Affordable and Clean Energy to as many final beneficiaries as possible. For example, the availability of light in public places at night reduces the incidence of Sexual and Gender based Violence (SGBV). The availability of light at home has been proven to improve the educational achievements of girls, who are traditionally expected to carry out domestic chores during daylight hours. Moreover, training and employment opportunities under the umbrella of the energy programme will provide women with access to economic empowerment and will strengthen women’s voice and agency in the selected communities.