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Turning on the lights in Sierra Leone

15th January 2015

Sierra Leone has one of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world with less than one in ten homes connected to the grid. For those lucky enough to have a grid connection, the quality of service is patchy. Over half the country’s generation capacity comes from a single hydroelectric power station and during the long dry season the reservoir runs dry, leaving much of the capital, Freetown, in darkness. Addressing these acute power problems is essential to boosting economic growth in Sierra Leone. It is also a political priority. 

Around $1 billion of investment is required in the sector over the coming years in both generation and the network to distribute the power to homes and businesses. The pre-conditions for securing this investment can only be delivered by government: planning, coordination and the establishment of a financially-viable electricity sector. AGI is supporting each of these areas by working directly with the Ministry of Energy as well as with other government stakeholders such as the Ministry of Finance and State House. 

AGI have supported the new Minister of Energy to bring together all the actors in the sector through the establishment of an Energy Taskforce and supported this Taskforce to develop an Energy Sector Strategy. We are now focussed on helping the government realise the first part of this strategy: a doubling of available power through a 50MW, privately built power station, which will be able to provide year-round power to over 100,000 homes. The power sector is complex and significant reforms need to take place over the coming years to ensure this investment can be financed. The network needs to be overhauled to ensure the power from the new plant can get to consumers, the Ministry and utility board need to establish new structures and systems to help them better manage the sector and the government need to get tough on those not paying their electricity bills to ensure the cash is available to pay for the power. 

AGI have helped the Government of Sierra Leone develop a detailed plan to deliver on these reforms which is helping track delivery on a day-to-day basis. We are proud to be supporting the Government of Sierra Leone as it embarks on the daunting but critical challenge of bringing electricity to a new generation of Sierra Leoneons.

 Photography: Ronald Vriesema