By Victoria Saffa
A small- Hydro Power Technology Centre has been officially opened at Fourah Bay College, FBC, University of Sierra Leone (USL), following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The ceremony was held at the Strasser-King Building on FBC campus and attended by University dons and non-academic staff, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy and Infrastructure Advisor to the President, among others.
Speaking at the ceremony, UNIDO representative Rana P. Singh stated that the organisation has completed many successful projects in Sierra Leone, adding that the Small-Hydro Power Technology Centre cost above one hundred and twenty five thousand United States Dollars ($125,000).
He added that the aim of the Centre is to promote clean energy innovation by teams of scientists and engineers from UNIDO and USL, as well as to provide sustainable support for the integration of higher engineering education with small-hydro power related research activities.
Singh maintained that the Small-Hydro Power will provide a more relevant theoretical and practical base for student’s development in the field of small-hydro power.
“We decided to open a small-hydro power centre at FBC because we believe that it is the best place to gather knowledge and the Centre will strengthen human and material resources with a greater participation in regional and international research and development projects through joint implementation projects and investments in Sierra Leone in the field of energy in general and Small-Hydro Power in particular,” he said.
In his statement, Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal of USL, Professor Ekundayo J.D. Thompson, showered praises on UNIDO for its unique partnership with FBC, adding that with the establishment of the Centre would engender lots of good energy work in the coming years.
He also thanked UNIDO for transforming the college, the oldest in sub-Sahara Africa, into a modern institution of higher learning.
The Operational Focal Point for GEF, Dr. Kelleh Bangura, said their organisation addresses global environmental activities and that they have funded various projects in Sierra Leone, with last year’s project grants amounting to $28.5m in the country.
He explained that GEF started since 1991 and operates in over 183 countries, including Sierra Leone, adding that their organisation has sponsored different projects in energy.
Giving her keynote address, the Executive Chairperson of the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Ms. Jatou Jalloh, said hydroelectricity is important for any country as access to energy is significant and will help to improve standard of living for rural and urban communities.
She also urged members of FBC to obtain funding to keep the small-Hydro Power Centre safe and durable, noting that the small energy power is important for solar installation in communities.
Ms. Jalloh further said that government is constructing mini-hydro dams in Port Loko, Moyamba, and in the Western Area to increase the use of and decentralisation of renewable energy technologies in rural and urban environments.