The Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has announced a major boost to the energy sector here, with the reported approval of US$42.48 million, a combined loan and grant financing agreement with partners to smoothly implement the Liberian Energy Efficiency Project or LEEAP, for short.
A release from the MFDP says the project is a multi-partnership approach financed with the African Development Bank Group’s resources from the African Development Fund (ADF), the Transition Support Facility (TSF), and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF), as well as from the European Union Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) trust fund and the Bank as implementing agency and the Government of Liberia providing counterpart funding.
Liberia’s Finance & Development Planning Minister, Boima S. Kamara, signed the grant recently on behalf of the Liberian government, which is to be forwarded to the Liberian Legislature for ratification.
Efforts by the government to provide accessible and cheap electricity across the country with support from partners are highly commendable and should be welcomed by all well-meaningful Liberians. Energy is a viable lubricant that moves the engine of any economy.
The economy here will not make any remarkable stride if we remained on the traditional practice of exporting raw materials rather than processed products, which are one of the key stimulants for GDP growth. However, investors would never be attracted to manufacturing if lack of accessible and cheap power continues to pose a challenge.
According to the release, the LEEAP project has a four-year lifespan with preparatory activities that commenced in 2016and is expected to provide a total of 13,000 electricity connections that would impact about 65,000 people, who will gain access to reliable electricity, through the connections of up to 40,000 households.
The objective is to increasing access to electricity from the current 2 percent to 5 percent by 2019, while promoting energy efficiency and strengthening the institutional capacity in the electricity sector.
LEEAP is part of a larger multi-donor program that aims to improve access to electricity across Liberia, which involves construction of 46.1 km of transmission line and 280 km of distribution line in the corridors of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County, and probably beyond.
However, we caution authorities at the Liberia Electricity Corporation and the government as a whole to move aggressively in tackling power theft that poses serious hindrance to energy deliverance and sustainability. Government should clampdown specifically on unscrupulous business people who want to make their wealth by stealing power, often in connivance with insiders instead of paying required fees.
We strongly believe this is where government should lay emphasis if sustainability of the current effort to provide accessible and affordable electricity is to be achieved, not only in the interest of the entire country, but to maintain partner’s trust.