By Jariatu Bangura
Parliament yesterday ratified a loan agreement amounting to the sum of US$331.51 million for the rural electricity networks interconnection project signed between the government of Sierra Leone, the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund.
In his presentation, Minister of State II in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu Kargbo, said the project involves the construction of a high voltage interconnection network linking Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and that it would include electrification of localities situated along the power line.
He said capacity building for the project’s executing agencies, studies on the planning and feasibility of hydroelectric power stations, and financing from the African Development Bank Fund, as well as the Nigeria Trust Bank, would be US$128.15 million, adding that the EU-African Infrastructure Trust Bank would co-finance the project by providing a grant of 10 million euros.
The minister pointed out that the objectives of the project, among others, are to facilitate sustainable energy between the participating countries and help establish a dynamic electricity access, electrifying communities located along the power line and supplying electric power to schools, health centers and businesses.
Mr. Kargbo noted that the expected outcomes of the project include increase in the volume of energy trade, decrease in the average electricity production costs, and decrease in outage times; employment creation, increase in women access to electricity; reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and increase availability and reliability of telecommunications in the participating countries.
He maintained that the project’s component includes infrastructure, rural electrification and project studies and management.
In his contribution, Hon. Kaifala Conteh said the interconnection power supply project was timely as the country is struggling to generate 5% [of the megawatts required to service the country], adding that “the agreement will help Sierra Leone toe the line of sustainable development”.
However, Hon. Umar Paran Tarawally noted that there are burning issues affecting the fast-tracking of electricity supply in the country, and that those implementing the project are not working to the expectations of the public.