New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Two Million Rural Dwellers in Darkness

More than 95% of over 2 million rural dwellers in Liberia do not have access to electricity, says the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) as it kick-starts a five-day Retscreen Clean Energy Project Analysis Training workshop to build the capacities of trainers in collaboration with its partners in the energy sector.

"This lack of decentralized and/or off-grid power generation to extend access to electricity and its related opportunities in rural areas has led to low level of productivity in small and medium enterprises, agriculture, delivery of basic social services and overall socio-economic activities," the RREA program stated.

At a local hotel on Monday during the opening ceremony of the five-day workshop, Steven Potter, RREA's Program Manager said that Retscreen is a software developed by the government of Canada to analyze renewable energy that will help to enhance the efficiency of energy in the country.

"This training is intended to train you to become trainers, we urge you to devote your time in acquiring knowledge. The emphasis of this government at this time is energy and Retsecreen's clean energy project analysis software is meant to enhance energy efficiency," he said.

Augustus V. Gwanue, RREA's Executive Director described the training as "very important" in achieving the government's energy needs. "This training is intended to properly equip you in meeting with the energy challenge of our country."

"As you all may be aware, energy is now at the top branch of the government's overall development agenda. This technology would help you reduce a lot of process required in analysing basic things within the energy sector," he explained.

The issue of energy remains a major challenge in Liberia, a nation which infrastructure including the Mount Coffee Hydro plant, was destroyed during a 14-year civil conflict that ended almost a decade ago.

At the just concluded vision 2030 program, Finance Minister Amara Konneh expressed optimism that the on-going re-construction project at the Mount Coffee Hydro plant which is aimed at restoring the country's electricity would end by December 2015.

Until 2015, experts says that most parts of the country would continue to feed on generators as a major source of power while those who can hardly afford the cost of purchasing one, would remain in darkness.

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