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Sierra Leone News:US Agency to fund private investments in Sierra Leone

Ms Elizabeth Littlefield

Ms Elizabeth Littlefield

The President and CEO of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Elizabeth Littlefield says her agency is ready to fund private investments that are commercially viable and address pro-poor development priorities in Sierra Leone.
OPIC is an agency of the United States Government working exclusively with private sector investors and trying to attract them into countries like Sierra Leone to invest in sustainable economic development, all those sector that are key priorities for development of this country.
“We are looking for partners that have commercially viable operations that need growth capital,” she says in an exclusive interview with Awoko in Freetown.
“We have done quite a lot in the region but we are not very well known in Sierra Leone and we want to make sure we increase our portfolios simply by raising awareness of the services we can provide to private sector investors, things like long term loans, political risk concerns,” she says.
OPIC offers long term loans and not grant and looking for partners committed to high standards of transparency.
OPIC supports projects from supporting small holders farmers wanting a cold storage for their products to funding big energy projects in the developing world. The agency is also playing a key role in President Obama’s Power Africa initiative aimed at doubling the number of people with access to electricity in Africa.
OPIC provided a $310 million loan to support geothermal power in Kenya and that doubled the generating capacity of a power plant in Kenya. The agency is supporting a 53 megawatts oil-fired thermal plant in Senegal, a 200 megawatts combined cycle power generating plant in Aboadze in Ghana, and the construction of a 100 megawatts power plant in Togo among others.
“We will be much more effective supporting a local organisation that has the expertise and the presence on the ground,” she said. But eligible projects are expected to have significant US ownership or involvement.
The agency is ready to provide Sierra Leone the expertise on how to provide small scale, village level micro grids either fuelled by solar energy or bio-waste and in some cases hydro power. Providing electricity to rural communities has been proven to be financially sustainable and even profitable. Ms Littlefield said there is a huge potential in rural areas of Sierra Leone and private investors should tap into it.
“We can provide for example financing of the poor, a farmer to invest in a cold storage facility to be able to keep products fresh from the farm through to the market or transportation services or processing services,” Ms Littlefield stressed. “Those are the kind of agricultural infrastructures that sometimes need the capital that we can provide as a loan.”
OPIC provides direct loans and guarantees of up to $250 million for tenors as long as 20 years in projects where sufficient private financing is not available. Since 1974, OPIC has committed $11.8 billion across 537 projects. It is authorized to do business in 47 countries in Africa.
Monday August 01, 2016

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