1 February 2013

Liberia: New Energy Law in Sight

The government has announced the formulation of a new energy law to attract private investment and ensure proper regulation of Liberia's energy sector, especially electricity or power generation.

Henry Kimber, Program Manager of Institutional Cooperation of the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy, made the disclosure in Monrovia Thursday.

"What we're doing right now is we're looking at the energy systems that we have on the book. We're looking at some laws on the book," Director Kimber said without mentioning which provision of the existing energy laws would be amended or extracted from the old energy legal framework.

He, nonetheless, pointed out: "If you want to bring in some private investments in the picture, there has to be some laws on the book in order to regulate the sector. We need to have a regulatory body that will regulate Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who sell current to customers per alms.

"These people sometimes tell you: pay $US40 per alms or $US50 or $US75. But the question is: Who's regulating that? We don't have a law that will address that kind of situation. We don't have that kind of regulatory institution, and this is why we're trying to formulate the new energy law that will tackle all those issues," he said.

The new law, when formulated, Mr. Kimber noted, will regulate all the existing problems within the country's energy sector, something he said would serve as a guide for both public and private sectors.

At the same, Mr. Kimber emphasized the need for straight laws on the books in order to properly guide the energy sector.

He said a process of reviewing and revising Liberia's old energy laws is currently ongoing with the hope that a draft new energy policy would be derived.

"After this process, we're going to make recommendations to ensure that the sector is reformed. We want to attract private investment and also protect the public," Director Kimber said.

In 2010, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy, signed an Institutional Cooperation Agreement with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate in order to cater to Liberia's energy needs.

A major component of that agreement, Mr. Kimber revealed, was to ensure that the energy law in Liberia was reviewed, and, if possible, revised, well regulated to attract private investment and make the country cope with its growing energy needs and future expansion of the sector.

Following two months of stakeholders' consultations and soliciting views, he said, a policy would be formulated and presented to the cabinet for its review and possible amendment, and then, finally, before it is presented to the National Legislature for its approval and subsequent enactment into law.

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