The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a new financing agreement of US$27 million to increase access to affordable and reliable electricity and to foster the use of renewable energy sources in Liberia. This agreement comprises of US$25 million grant from the Strategic Climate Fund Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program and US$2 million International Development Association (IDA) credit.
The Liberia Renewable Energy Access Project (LIRENAP) seeks to establish a mini hydropower plant to benefit about 50,000 people, as well as small businesses, associations and public institutions in Lofa County through connections to the mini-hydro electric grid. The project would also benefit additional 100,000 people nationwide who would gain access to stand-alone solar systems and lanterns.
“This project, aligned with Liberia’s development strategy, Agenda for Transformation, targets electricity service expansion, reduction of the cost of electricity and fostering renewable energy resources, which are essential components for achieving sustainable economic transformation and poverty reduction,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Liberia Country Manager.
Expansion of electricity access would be critical to expand access to electricity services in remote areas that are not likely to be connected to the national grid in the foreseeable future, and to promote nationwide use of renewable sources of energy away from more expensive imported fuel. The LIRENAP would also contribute to the Liberian Government’s efforts to rebuild the economy after the Ebola outbreak since the project’s area of major intervention will be in Lofa County that was harshly affected by the epidemic.
“This project targets the construction of a hydropower plant near Kolahun on the Kaiha River, distribution lines and facilitating connections for households, businesses and public entities,” said Clemencia Torres de Mästle and David Vilar, World Bank Co-Task Team Leaders. Major towns to benefit from this hydropower plant are Voinjama, Foya, Kohalun, Massambolahun/Bolahun and surrounding areas they added.
The LIRENAP will be implemented by the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) of Liberia and it would liaise with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy to ensure consistency between the activities financed under this project and the sector policies for decentralized electrification. The project is also aiming at enhancing the capacity of the RREA.
In February 2014, with the financing of the World Bank, RREA completed and handed over to the Government of Liberia a rehabilitated and expanded 60 kilowatts mini-hydro plant in Yandohun, Lofa County. The present LIRENAP builds upon the experience gained from this pilot project and seeks to expand the benefits of developing the hydro-electrical potential of the country.