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UNOPS, MOE commission £34.5m DFID funded solar energy installation

April 7, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

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Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley making statement 
ministe
and one of the facilities at Mambolo 

With funds from the Department for International Development (DFID), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Ministry of Energy (MOE) have commissioned solar energy installation at Community Health Centres (CHCs) in two districts in the northern region of Sierra Leone.

Six kilowatts (6kw p) solar energy installations for each of the CHCs were commissioned at Mambolo and Kukuna communities in the Mambolo and Bramaia chiefdoms, Kambia district, while another was commissioned in  Koinadugu II community, Sengbeh chiefdom, Koinadugu district.

Senior Infrastructure Adviser at DFID, Simon Kenny, said the Rural Renewable Energy Programme (RREP) was part of the President’s Recovery Priorities, adding that the UK government and people contributed 420 million Pounds Sterling (£420m) to the government of Sierra Leone.

“It was from that £420m that the sum of over thirty-four million Pounds Sterling (£34.5m) was taken to embark on the project of providing solar energy electrification to 50 CHCs, which will be completed by the end of June, this year. The solar energy plants in the CHCs that have been commissioned in the two districts are only pilot of the first phase of the project. After the installation of the 50 solar plants at the CHCs, another 50 will be installed at 50 communities, which will total to 100 solar energy plants,” he explained.

He said the installed solar energy would be sourcing free energy from the sun, although the equipment were  not required for free, noting that if the batteries get defunct, the communities should be in a capacity to provide new ones, so as to ensure sustainability.

UNOPS Country Manager, Nick Gardener, said the project would run for four years and would create a platform for the provision of electricity to rural communities, added that after the solar energy shall have been installed at 50 CHCs, 50 communities would then benefit from the same facilities and that a total of five hundred thousand (500,000) people in rural communities will experience energy supply.

“Institutions and individual homes will be connected in rural communities. The solar energy will be providing electricity for 24 hours a day. It does not require power supply but it should be properly handled. It’s a six kilowatts pack stand-alone- system,” he said.

He called on paramount chiefs to identify community members that should be trained on how to maintenance the solar plants.

Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, said he was instructed by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to electrify the 149 chiefdoms in Sierra Leone, and with support from development partners like DFID, UNOPS, among others, he has been able to do as he was instructed.

“Electricity is very important as it will bring development but it should be well utilized. This is the first phase of the project which will ensure that 50 CHCs get solar energy supply. The second phase will make way for the provision of 50 solar energy supplies to another 50 communities,” he reiterated.

He thanked DFID for providing the fund and UNOPS for executing the project.

He, however, called on the people to serve as security for the just commissioned solar energy plants.

In  Mambolo chiefdom, Kambia district, Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Lion II, said previously the medical personnel at the CHC found it very difficult to respond to emergencies at night because there was no electricity supply.

He noted that with the provision of the solar energy, deliveries would now be done at night with ease, while drugs will be cooled.

He called on UNOPS to construct a wall around the solar installation in order to prevent it from damage by human activities.

At Kukuna town in the Bramaia chiefdom, P.C KandeKabbaSedu I, expressed his gratitude to DFID, UNOPS and MOE for selecting one of the communities in his chiefdom to benefit from the project.

“It is a source of development. This will help us preserve our drugs and deliver pregnant women at night. It is reasonable and sustainable but we should be able to provide security for it at all times,” he said.

At Koinadugu II community in the Sengbeh chiefdom, the Chiefdom Speaker, who represented the paramount chief, Bubalie Marah,thanked the donor and the implementing agency for supporting their medical service delivery in that remote part of the country.

He said they have 74 Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in the chiefdom but only one CHC has benefited from solar energy, urging that the remaining 73 be considered among the remaining number of CHCs to benefit.

Director of Energy, Engineer Benjamin Kamara, called on the people to take ownership of the solar energy by providing the maximum security it deserves.

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