By Mamadi Gobeh Kamara
One of the challenges facing Sierra Leone as a nation is the supply of uninterrupted electricity. It should be noted that upon assumption of office by President Koroma, improving the quality and supply of electricity remains top on his agenda. Several reforms have been introduced in the Ministry of Energy and the National Power Authority (NPA) to improve on the status quo. One key challenge facing especially the national power distributor, NPA is that of the transmission and distribution network across the country.
Most of the energy generated from the various sources including the Bumbuna hydro dam cannot be evacuated into the homes, offices and factories across the country, thereby causing huge electricity loss for the utility. With the introduction of the pre-paid meter system, there has been some improvement in the revenue generation of NPA. As a way of building on this, the Ministry of Energy signed an agreement for the procurement, installation and commissioning of the prepaid meters, as well as the reinforcement and extension of the medium and low voltage network and the supply of prepaid meters and vending stations in the Western Area.
The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday. STEG International Services, a gas and energy outfit based in Tunisia, won the contract and were represented by the Deputy General Director, Jamil Korked and team.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Financial Secretary, Edmond Koroma, noted the significance of the contract, adding that if expedited quickly, it will make a lot of difference in the energy sector and the country as a whole. He emphasized that the project was long overdue and needed to be taken out of the way so that more money can be invested into the energy sector.
Mr. Koroma assured the contractors that his ministry will start working on their own side of the bargain so that the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) can release the advance payment to kick-start the process.
The contractor STEG International Services thanked the government of Sierra Leone for awarding the contract to his group and assured that they will commence the implementation immediately. He promised that they will deliver against the stipulated timeframe with the best quality. “When once the procedures are completed, we will proceed with the execution of the works”, he assured.
STEG International Services, Mr. Korked said, is the national company for electricity and gas in Tunisia with more than 50 years of experience working in the energy sector. He said the group has 4,000,000 (four million) customer base, 12,000 (twelve thousand) staff, 5,000 (five thousand) of whom work on power generation.
He disclosed that they have just completed the execution of a project in Rwanda with 50,000 households benefitting, adding that his team is ready to start the project and promised to deliver quality work within the stipulated timeframe.
Other speakers at the meeting include the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Zainab Buya Kamara and the acting General Manager of NPA, Alhaji Timbo – both of whom pledged their cooperation for the successful implementation of the project.
It should be noted that the successful and timely implementation of this project will improve on the low and medium voltage network affecting the supply of electricity in Freetown, as well as increase on the revenue generation drive of the NPA.