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Sierra Leone News: World Bank provides $200m facility for Salone and 18 others

The Board of the World Bank Group has last week approved a US$200 million fund to help the West African Development Bank and ECOWAS’ Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency expand off-grid access to electricity for populations in 19 countries in the Sahel region and West Africa including Sierra Leone.  The approved Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) includes $150 million in the form of credit and grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and $74.7 million contingent recovery grant from the Clean Technology. The countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The press release issued by the Group states that ROGEP’s objective is to increase electricity access of households, businesses, and public institutions using modern stand-alone solar systems through a harmonized regional approach.  The project is expected to benefit about 1.7 million people currently living without electricity connection or with unreliable supply, as well as businesses and public institutions who will use modern stand-alone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities. Coordinating Director for Regional Integration in West Africa Rachid Benmessaoud said that so far, only 3 percent of households in West Africa and the Sahel are served by stand-alone solar home systems, and 208 million people in the sub-region do not have access to electricity. “The project seeks to assist regional policy makers to address barriers to create a regional market for stand-alone solar systems, which is essential to reduce energy poverty in the region, and entrepreneurs to take opportunities in this market through development of scalable business solutions,” said Benmessaoud. In addition “the new project will help adopt regional standards and regulations to establish a regional market with harmonized policies that will attract larger market players for the benefit of all participating countries.” The statement from the World Bank added that although stand-alone solar systems have a large market potential in West Africa and the Sahel, investments in off-grid renewable energy have lagged behind in the sub-region.  The new project it says is hoped at maximizing finance for development by crowding in private investments to deploy innovative technologies.  “By developing a regional market, it will help better address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create jobs.” The new project is aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity and the Africa Climate Business Plan. Furthermore, it will implement a pilot to test business models to electrify schools and health clinics critical for the Human Capital Project in West Africa.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Wednesday April 24, 2019.

 

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