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200 megawatts electricity needed in Western Area

…but only 36.5 is currently available

January 11, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

Acting Director General of the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC), Engineer Scot Garvey, has stated that in order to get uninterrupted electricity supply in the Western Area, electricity providers should be able to generate and supply 200 megawatts.

He made the above statement on Monday during a conference organised by the Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers’ (SLIE) on the challenges facing the energy sector held at the Cathedral House on Gloucester Street in Freetown.

Scot Garvey said Bumbuna Hydro was currently generating 20 megawatts, while   power stations in Freetown generate 16.5 megawatts, totaling to 36.5 megawatts available for supply.

He noted that during the rains, Bumbuna Hydro generates over 50 megawatts in addition to those generated by power stations for customers.

“A baseline survey conducted some years ago showed that there should be 0.75kilowatt of electricity supply per person. However, recent baseline survey showed that each person should now get 1kilowatt electricity supply. Currently, 90 percent of the electricity we supply is generated by the machines not the hydro,” he said.

Engineer Alex B. Kamara of SLIE said the development of the energy sector was very much critical, adding that it was a good decision by President Koroma to prioritise it.

“Over the years, several reports have been produced on how to develop the energy sector. We need significantly more power supply than we have now. We have in Sierra Leone three months relatively regular power supply but the remaining months experience poor power supply. That should be changed because power is important in everything we do,” he said.

Doing a power-point presentation on commercial and financial loss of energy, Chairman of Professional Engineers Registration Council (PERC), Tani Pratt, said all energy supplied to a distribution utility does not reach end -users, adding that a substantial amount of it was lost along the way.

He said non-technical losses mainly related to power theft or by just ignoring unpaid bills.

Sharing the Ghana experience on energy supply with his Sierra Leonean counterparts, former Minister of Energy in Ghana, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei, said they did adequate assessment of the power system and came up with a report that was used to develop the sector.

He said if Sierra Leone was to address the problem of power supply, the government should work with SLIE, adding that the government should also write in the press, telling the public that what they have now was not power problem but financial.

“I’m urging the government to do so because we failed to do so in Ghana and it costs us in the election-we lost. What you are calling in Sierra Leone “on and off” we call it “doom-sun” in Ghana. The doom is the darkness and the sun is the light. Many people including corporate institutions were complaining about doom-sun and that made us to loss the past election,” he said.

Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, said he was so happy to see top engineers in the country coming  to support the Ministry of Energy in identifying the challenges of the energy sector.

He recalled that when he was appointed by President Koroma, he was tasked to generate and supply 1,000 megawatts to the entire country, adding that 700 megawatts should be supplied and 300megawatts should be left as a reserve in case of a breakdown of the hydro and machines.

He said when they were developing a baseline for the supply of electricity; they discovered that 22 communities were not benefiting from power supply. He noted that recent baseline survey has shown that there were now 50 communities that were not getting power supply.

“Makeni was struggling with 1megawatt power supply but now has 5megawatts and  power is now stable. Bumbuna town has now become an economically viable place because it has power supply. Electricity is important because without it, even your shadow will abandon you,” he said.

He reiterated the words of the World Bank Country Manager, Parminder Brar, who said that no country can develop if it relies on donor funds, thus calling on investors to invest in the energy sector.

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