Monrovia — The Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (LME) and the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency of Liberia (RREA), with support from the World Bank, through the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), has ended a day-long workshop aimed at creating awareness and sharing information on the Regional Off-Grid and Electrification Project (ROGEP) in Liberia.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Monday, November 27, the Director of Alternative Energy at the LME, Sylvester M. Massaquoi, said ROGEP is geared towards increasing access to sustainable electricity services in the ECOWAS region for household, commercial enterprises and public facilities.
It is funded by the World Bank and framed in the ECOWAS Program on Access to Sustainable Electricity Services (EPASES), and directly contributing to the goals of ECOWAS Regional Renewable Energy Policy (EREP), with a target to provide universal access to electricity to the region by 2030.
Mr. Massaquoi hailed the partnership with the World the Bank and ECREEE and noted that the private sector will benefit including households and institutions in rural Liberia.
"When we started this project along with the consultant, little did we know that it would have captured the attention of the World Bank and ECRREP and this materialized in to what we have today."
"This workshop is geared towards creating awareness on increasing the asset to electricity in the rural areas. Because of the need of electricity in the region, this partnership with the World Bank and ECREEP will go a long way in solving our energy problem. This will enhance the capacity of those in the private sector," Mr. Massaquoi stated.
Also speaking, Kwabena Adom-Opare, the World Bank Technical Consultant, avowed that the project is aimed at ensuring a vibrant market for solar standalone system and where banks will be willing to lend money to private institutions to enable customers get on the system.
He said ECREEEP is currently implementing the ROGEP, which is in the tune of US$200 million in 19 countries including Liberia.
"The World Bank is also ensuring that these equipment or solar products that are coming into the market are of quality so that consumers will have confident in these products.
The total budget for this project which will span over a five-year period is US$200 million. And out of this, the Bank is planning on using US$140 million as a credit line where we lent to commercial bank."
"What Liberia stands from gaining is that private companies in Liberia, once the project hits implementation, will have access to this credit line and have access to credit to expand their businesses, to provide solar standalones to rural communities which do not have access to the grid or to the urban communities in Monrovia," he explained.
For his part, Stephen Potter, Sr., the Acting Executive Director of the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency of Liberia (RREA) described ROGEP as a major milestone in the endeavor to electrify the rural part of Liberia using indigenous resources including hydro, wind and solar.
He said because it is challenging for the grid to reach every part of Liberia, his entity, with support from the donors are ensuring that the rural parts of the country are electrified.
Mr. Potter thanked the World Bank and ECREEP for the support and disclosed that there are several rural electrification projects currently ongoing and benefitting several communities in Lofa and Nimba counties; adding that plans are under way to expand to others parts of Liberia including the south-eastern region.
He averred that currently all is being worked out to embark on a World Bank sponsored 2.5 mega hydro power plant that will electrify significant parts of Lofa including Voinjama, Foya and Kolahum.
In addition, the RREA acting boss revealed that some parts of Kolahun District in Lofa are currently benefiting from a 24-hour 60 Kilowatts solar power project and with support from the European Union through Plan International has installed five mini grids Lofa and biomass projects in Kwendin and Solunbah in Nimba and Lofa Counties respectively is providing electricity to local dwellers.
He further asserted that EU is currently conducting feasibility studies for the connection of major cities and towns in the south-east including Harper, Pleebo, Zwedru, Fish Town, Greenville, Cestos and called on the private sector to take ownership of these projects.