February 7, 2018 By Joseph S. Margai
A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led West African Power Pool (WAPP) is currently in Sierra Leone to supervise and get first-hand information about the US$21.8m fund that was released by ECOWAS in 2013 for the improvement of the energy sector in the country.
The delegation, which is led by ECOWAS Commissioner of Energy and Mines, Dr. Morlaye Bangoura, will visit the two power stations in Kingtom and Black Hall Road and other key areas that the WAPP project is being implemented.
Deputy Minister of Energy I, Engineer Alhaji Hassan Barrie, said while the country had suffered from inadequate power generation capacity for many years, the transmission and distribution of power generated had also been a major challenge.
He said improving transmission and distribution systems remain a critical component of efforts to increase electricity supply, especially in the Western Area.
However, he said the government continues to make frantic efforts to scale up transport capacity of the transmission and distribution network in the Western Area.
“It was on the basis of this that in February 2013, President Ernest Bai Koroma personally made a request to ECOWAS Commission in order to provide financial support for the implementation of emergency efforts to improve power supply in the country. In June 2013, the sum of US$21.8 million was approved by ECOWAS in order to implement a project titled: ‘Emergency Power Supply Programme for Sierra Leone,” he revealed.
He said that the amount has, to a very large extent, provided relief against acute shortage of power distribution by addressing routine maintenance of diesel generators and auxiliary equipment, transmission network, and improvement in revenue collection process, procurement of oil and lubricant and capacity building support to project management.
“For the effective and smooth implementation of this project, the Ministry of Energy has ensured the granting of tax and duty exoneration and waivers for import of petroleum product and materials under the ‘Emergency Power Programme’ throughout its implementation,” he noted.
He said they have also encouraged the creation of an emergency procurement procedure for the Ministry of Energy to fast-track the implementation of the project.
The Deputy Energy Minister I, on behalf of President Koroma and the Minister, Ambassador Henry Macauley, expressed his profound gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission for providing financial support for implementation of an emergency power supply programmed in Sierra Leone.
He assured the delegation of government’s utmost co-operation and co-ordination with the ECOWAS Commission for the promotion of energy activities.
Commissioner of Energy and Mines, Dr. Morlaye Bangoura, said the energy situation in the region is very critical, and which is why ECOWAS was doing all its best to improve power supply by launched the project in 2014.
“While we are working to develop our generation power plants, develop our interconnection network for a better power supply to our population, we are also making efforts to meet the direct needs of the people of the region,” he said.
He said it is an emergency project, which means it should have been done within a short while but due to some unavoidable problems the project is still ongoing, noting that that was why the delegation was in the country to find a way of speeding up its implementation.
“We have to see how far the project has gone, how we can improve the payment with the contractor, how we can improve the other aspects that are delaying to see the project done within the shortest possible time,” he said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Madam Zainab Buya-Kamara, said her ministry had received the amount from ECOWAS to address the immediate needs of power shortage in the country.
“We started implementation in 2014 but before the agreement was signed there was the National Power Authority (NPA), which was responsible for generation and transmission. During the implementation, NPA was unbundled in January 2015 into two separate entities, which include the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC),” she explained.
“The project comprises various components, which included the generation component, which addresses the maintenance of the generators and another component called the supply of fuel. These two components were transferred to EGTC and we have the distribution and supply of prepaid metres’ components which are transferred to EDSA,” she revealed.
Mrs. Buya-Kamara said that in the component of capacity building, the ministry, EDSA and EGTC were beneficiaries.
She revealed that the main delay in the project was caused by the outbreak of the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD), which lasted for two years and that during those years nothing was done with regards implementation of the project.
EGTC’s Director General Engineer Scott Garvey and EDSA’s Corporate Planning and Project Manager Engineer Milton Ngegbai each highlighted the various progress that had been achieved since the start of the implementation of the project.