Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance has signed a $40 million agreement with the International Finance Corporation, a sister organization of the World Bank, for the development of a 50 MW solar project in the country. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 18-24 months and will supply electricity at a tariff of $0.08/kWh.
Discussions for the project started at the African Development Bank Annual meeting in Busan, South Korea in May this year, after Sierra Leone’s finance minister, Jacob Jussu Saffa, presented the case for the need to provide affordable, reliable and clean energy to the people of Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s power sector is very small; the country has less than 150 MW of operational capacity and roughly 150,000 connected customers. Only 12 percent of the country’s households have access to electricity, according to the finance minister.
The Minister stressed the need for sustainable and affordable electricity to develop the health, education, and business sectors. In addition, Saffa met with senior officials from the Indian Government, Indian EXIM Bank, and many CEOs of Indian companies on October 8-9 in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting named CII-EXIM Bank Regional Conclave on India and West Africa, brought together west African ministers, senior officials of governments of India and West African countries, CEOs, diplomats, and potential investors.
The conference revolved around challenges and opportunities for strengthening cooperation between India and West Africa. The focus was to increase foreign direct investment into West Africa.
As of now, a $78 million transmission and substation project has been approved but is pending on detailed project design. The Minister further discussed preferential trade facilities with the Indian Government. Minister Saffa presented the case for education and training, agriculture, tourism. He spoke about the opportunities in these sectors and called on Indian investors to come to Sierra Leone.
Africa, with millions of households yet to get electrified, has recently begun focusing on solar to meet its energy demands. Of late, many global financial institutions and investors have also entered the African solar market.
Recently, the New Development Bank (NDB), an initiative by BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, approved a $300 million loan for sustainable development projects in South Africa.
Mercom previously reported that the World Bank approved $180 million in assistance to Kenya to strengthen the financial health of the Kenya Electricity Generation Company Limited (KenGen) and improve private sector financing in the energy sector of the East African country.
Shaurya is a staff reporter at MercomIndia.com with experience working in the Indian solar energy industry for the past four years in various roles. Prior to joining Mercom, Shaurya worked with a renewable energy developer and a consulting company. Shaurya holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.