The Government of the United States of America (USA) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has granted the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) US$9.1 million for the expansion of electricity supply in Monrovia and its environs.
Under the agreement, the LEC is to expand the electricity grid in Monrovia - both downtown and along Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor.
Speaking at the official signing ceremony of the US$9.1M grant on Thursday, December 6, 2012, the Ambassador of the United States accredited to Liberia, Madam Deborah Malac, said the agreement is important in several ways.
According to her, it provides funding to the LEC directly, and also reflects the Obama Administration's policy to support the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and Busan in promoting host country ownership of the development process.
"It gives me great pleasure to be here today to mark the inauguration of a new and exciting partnership between the U.S. and Liberian Governments to link new customers to the Liberia Electricity Corporation's expanding grid," said the US Envoy.
"Energy is front and center in the Liberian Government's Agenda for Transformation which will be launched next week. Early in her tenure, President Sirleaf recognized that energy supply is key to balanced economic growth and has made rehabilitation and expansion of the country's energy infrastructure the government's highest priority," she continued.
Speaking further, the US diplomat said the US Government is proud to support this high priority of the Sirleaf's administration.
She noted that the United States has been involved in helping restore electricity to Liberia since the signing of the comprehensive peace accords in 2003, stressing: "We to date, we have invested over $50 million in the sector. We agree with the President that widely available and reasonably priced electricity is one of the central pillars on which Liberian development and prosperity will be built."
The US envoy said the new funding agreement will provide electrical service to 7,000 new customers - more than doubling the current number of customers.
She said the agreement is the second of such U.S. Government agreement in Liberia, noting, the first was with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare just over a year ago.
Madam Malac said the willingness to provide direct funding to LEC reflects the US confidence in LEC's increasing management capacity. In addition, she pointed out that the direct responsibility for use of the funds will further strengthen LEC's ability to manage complex and large scale activities.
"This agreement also reflects our commitment to donor coordination. The U.S. Government is working closely with the Government of Norway to support LEC's Accelerated Transmission and Distribution project. Between Norway and ourselves, LEC will receive just over $20 million to significantly increase the number of connections while improving the technical capacity in the energy sector," the US envoy furthered.
"Let me take a moment to recognize the Government of Norway (GON) which continues to be an excellent partner to the Government of Liberia and with the US Government. The energy sector in Liberia benefits from enormous cooperation between international donors and the Government. We expect this collaboration to continue and result in accessible and reliable energy for more and more Liberians, she added.
Also speaking at the signing ceremony, the Deputy Minister for Revenue at the Ministry of Finance, Dr. James Kollie, lauded the US government for such a strong partnership agreement. He said energy remains critical to the Liberian government's development drive.
Dr. Kollie, who is also the acting Minister of Finance due to the visit of Minister Konneh to the United States, said without investment in the energy sector, every development effort here risk failure. He lauded the LEC for demonstrating high capability that it can perform the task assigned to it.
For his part, the LEC through its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Shahid Mohammad, said by August of next year, the entire project will be inaugurated. As stated in the agreement, he said the money will be used in a manner and form to meet the targeted goal and objective.
He pointed out that the grant is a clear manifestation of the US commitment to support the energy sector of Liberia. "We want to thank the Government of the USA for its continual support to the LEC. Over the years, the LEC has enjoyed a number of supports from the US. For instance, all of the furniture, the computers here are all support given to us by USAID," Mr. Mohammad stated.