As part of efforts to increase energy access to rural communities, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma Friday 28 July 2017 launched the Kaffu Bullom Mini-Grid at Conakry Dee in the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, Port Loko district.
The Mini-Grid, the president intimated, is part of the Rural Renewable Energy Project funded by DFID with the objective to providing energy to 54 community health centres across the country.
Energy being an essential component to national development, President Koroma stressed, inspired the ruling government to exert more efforts in the sector thereby providing energy not only in the cities but also in the district headquarter towns and now cascading it to rural communities. "No country will develop if it is not energy sufficient," he emphasized, adding that the project has considerably helped school going pupils with ease to study under solar panels at night.
President Koroma thanked the Department for International Development (DFID) for providing funding for the project and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for implementation. He urged the community people to take full ownership of the project for it sustainability and success.
Head of DFID Sally Taylor underscored the importance of electricity to health facilities. She assured of UK's continued support to Sierra Leone for developments that are in sync with the president's Agenda for Prosperity. She also said that the project will make a real difference by providing reliable power to refrigerate vaccines, operate medical equipment and provide crucial lighting for night time medical services.
The Country Director for UNOPS Sonja Varga clearly stated that the energy project which has been part of the President's Recovery Priorities, will be available for 24 hours.
She called on all stakeholders in the community to actively participate in the success of the project. The project, she said, will create business employment opportunities and provide adequate security for the facilities, for the benefit of the Sierra Leonean people, in whose name this Rural Renewable Energy Project is being implemented.
In his remarks, the Minister of Energy Ambassador Henry Macauley revealed that government is aiming to increase energy to 1000 megawatts to make the country energy sufficient. He informed that the energy sector provided 259 million kilowatts per hour in 2015, 302 million kilowatts per hour in 2016 and 180 million kilowatts per hour within the period of January to June 2017.
The minister pointed out that the cost of electricity was smaller than the cost of darkness. He noted that whilst we measure the cost of electricity in $ per kwh, the cost of darkness is measured in human development units; in the cost of proper healthcare and sanitation, to education, to safe drinking water, to agriculture and food security, to small and medium business growth, to large industrial growth, to jobs, among others.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Maya Kaikai assured of inter-ministerial collaboration to support the project especially in providing policy oversight and monitoring of the project.
Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah also expressed similar sentiments of collaboration and went on to highlight the achievements of President Koroma in the health sector.
The three ministers of Energy, Health and Local Government signed an Inter-Ministerial Memorandum of Cooperation to climax their participation in the event. President Koroma later went on a conducted tour of the new community health centre and it's facilities.