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EU Light Up Liberia Program connects 45,000 residents

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The three and half years Light – Up Liberia program funded by the European Union has officially ended. This was made known during the closeout workshop, which took place on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at the Murex Plaza, Monrovia.

The program which was implemented by Mercy Corps, Fosera and Alternative Energy brought modern lighting to 45,690 rural and peri-urban residents in Bong, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Gbarpolu, Nimba and rural Montserrado counties.This includes 5,280 solar home systems installed, 334 pieces of cook stoves, solar installations at 35 public institutions and 60 SMEs for energy for productive uses.

Giving an overview of program results, the Program Manager, Emmanuel Aziebor also mentioned that, the program successfully piloted the novel pay as you go model in Liberia in partnership with local distributors and international manufacturers through which 10,79 homes were connected to PAYGo Solar home systems.

This significantly opens up the off-grid market for private sector companies to take advantage of.The European Union (EU) says its member states have approved a new rural electrification program of 42 million for southeastern Liberia, in response to several requests for the EU to continue the Light – Up Liberia program implemented by Mercy Corps to electrify remote households and businesses using solar energy.

Giving the keynote remarks, the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Liberia, Mr. Theodorus Kaspers says the investment in the Light Up Liberia program was only a tiny drop of the required investment needed to resolve the rural electricity challenge in Liberia.He indicates that it was also meant to test whether people are willing and able to pay for energy products and services, which according to him has been successfully proven.

At the same event, Mr. Kaspers, disclosed that EU Member States have just approved a new rural electrification program of 42 million euros that will bring electricity to a number of unconnected cities in the Southeast, in particular Buchanan, Barclayville, Greenville and will expand to a number of cities along the Cote d’Ivoire border.Mr. Kaspers says the EU is massively supporting the energy sector in Liberia, noting, “We have invested more than a hundred million euros that’s about 120 million U.S. dollars in the sector.”

Earlier, the Director of GIZ Endev, Hans-Hartlieb Euler remarked that for the last ten years, Endev has reached millions of people with energy in 26 countries that are mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America.He also called for increased attention on climate change issues, saying “Of course in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and Guinea there is still less attention; but we all know our survival depends on … climate change.”

The Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) representative Mr. Abraham Bility stressed the need for more investment in the renewable energy sector to help Liberia, and encouraged the EU to continue their energy sector investments as the Light – Up Liberia program climaxes.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Sreejon Deb, Director of Programs at Mercy Corps expressed appreciation to the donor and other stakeholders for their support in the successful implementation of the program.

“… But at the same time I would also put a request to donors how we can reactivate similar kind of program again where Mercy Corps and other organizations including private organizations can play similar role to take it further away to get more impact for Liberian people,” says Mr. Deb.

At the close of the Light – Up Liberia program were representatives from the Lands Mines and Energy Ministry, EU Delegation, Sweden Embassy, French Embassy, Mercy Corps, Rural Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), Liberian Energy Access Practitioners (LEAP) Network and other distinguished partners.

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