Pres. Bio on increasing energy access in Sierra Leone

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The government of Sierra Leone sees vigorous energy sector reform as critical to economic growth, health, and social well-being, says Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. He adds that as a result of this robust reform, more households are now connected to the grid than in 2018.

President Bio disclosed that 39 communities are to be electrified along the CLSG/West Africa Power Pool’s 225kV transmission network including Zimmi and Potoru in the south; Kangama Gorahun and Njaiama Nimikoro to the east; and Masingbi, Bumbuna, Matotoka, Kamalo, Kamakwie, Binkolo, and Fadugu to the north. According to him, electricity supply has been restored to Lunsar.

The CLSG project provides opportunity for rural electrification which will immensely benefits people in the rural communities within the proximity of the transmission line. That means villages along the way will benefit from the rural electrification component through a technology called the Shield-wire system. Schools, health centers and households will be electrified as part of this rural electrification component.

Significant progress has also been made in the construction works of the CLSG interconnection line. The construction of the section of the transmission line from Man (Cote d’Ivoire) through Liberia to Yiben (Sierra Leone) is almost complete.

According to President Bio, planning and rural electrification units have been set up to supervise rural electrification activities, develop regulations, and develop cost-reflective tariffs. “The electrification of seven District towns — Kabala, Kambia, Moyamba, Kailahun, Pujehun, Bonthe and Mattru Jong — is well underway. Phase II expansion of the Bumbuna Hydroelectric dam is also in progress.”

In his statement at the state opening of the Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament in May 2021, the Sierra Leonean leader said his government has increased electricity generation and transmission capacity across the country. “We will augment generation capacity with 87 Megawatts of confirmed investment in the sector and we will soon commission a 6-Megawatt solar park in Newton.”

“We now generate sufficient electricity in Freetown,” he declared, adding that his government inherited a defective and decadent transmission and distribution system that is incapable of evacuating and transmitting the power that is being generated. “This is made worse by the deliberate vandalization by ill-motivated citizens of transformers and installed equipment. Therefore, let me state that citizens who are engaged in such vandalization activities will face the full force of the law,” the President said.

President Bio continued that with support from the World Bank, his government is currently addressing the perennial problem of load-shedding and massive inefficiencies in power evacuation and distribution in Freetown by expanding or upgrading the 33 kV / 11 kV grid in Freetown. “Distribution transformers and lines are also being installed in 33 unserved communities. A vendor supply process for electricity meters means that meters are now easily available.”

In collaboration with partners, the President furthered that his government has commissioned 50 rural mini- grids and four smaller pilot systems in 54 chiefdoms with 8,000 household connections in beneficiary communities, and another 44 mini-grids are being developed in 44 chiefdoms.

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