Liberia: EU Impressed With Light Up Liberia Program Implemented By Mercy Corps

-- Beneficiaries Appeal for Bigger Solar Systems

A three-man delegation from the European Union (EU) led by Yannis Tzartas, Head of Section and Education; and accompanied by Giorgio Kirchmayr, Program Manager for Infrastructures and Gerald Fuller, Project Officer for Infrastructures, were warmly welcomed by beneficiaries of the EU funded Light Up Liberia (LUL) program in Gbarpolu County on Wednesday July 17, 2019.

The LUL program manager, Emmanuel Aziebor and Ms. Kebbeh Monee Tumosiayah, accompanied the team. The GIZ Endev Program, a key partner of Mercy Corps under the Light Up Liberia Program also participated in the community visit which was meant to review progress of work done by Mercy Corps and interact with beneficiaries under the Program.

The program, which is being implemented by Mercy Corps, provides modern and cheaper sources of energy for lighting, phone charging and clean cooking for rural and peri-urban communities in seven counties in Liberia.

In addition to installing solar energy systems for public institutions such as community centers, night schools, police and immigration checkpoints in rural areas, the program also introduced on a large scale for the first time in Liberia solar home systems known as Pay As You Go (PAYGo) that can be purchased on a sell and pay basis.

The pay as you go (PAYGo) enables households to buy quality solar systems and pay in installments instead of outright upfront payment. So far, partner private sector distributors have installed over 1,100 pay as you go systems, improving the lives of rural dwellers, particularly children of school-going age.

The first stop of the team was at the Joint DEA, LNP and LIS Post at Sawmill where Mercy Corps installed a 120w solar powered system to provide energy for lighting and phone charging. In remarks, the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) Commander at the Joint Post, Edwin Gorton accompanied by other joint security personnel, said the EU funded project has changed the lives of so many people for the better in the community.

"With this help from the EU through Mercy Corps LUL program is really helping us. Before, this place was always very dark in the night but thank God that people can now come to us at night to lodge complaints," Commander Gorton said. "We are very grateful to the EU for the energy systems and would like to appeal for the system capacity to be increased so that we can operate computers to ensure timely reporting," Gorton pleaded.

The next stop for the team was at Weasua where Mercy Corps has installed solar systems for the local police station, community school and small businesses. Mercy Corps also supported its private sector partners to install pay as you go solar home systems in Weasua. The PAYGo solar home system provides six to eight hours of emission-free lighting and enough power to charge mobile phones, play MP3 and radio respectively.

According to Emmanuel Aziebor, the total amount for the solar system is US$120.00. A customer only needs to make a down payment of US$20 or its Liberian dollar equivalent for 30 days, for the system to be installed for him or her. The customer then needs to make a payment of US$10 or its Liberian dollar equivalent per month for 10 month through cash or mobile money to complete payment and own the system for forever.

Other business people who earlier spoke to the Daily Observer commended the EU delegation for alleviating their energy challenges by helping them get energy systems for their businesses.

The EU delegates expressed delight that the funds are being used for the intended purpose. They were particularly impressed with the fact that the commercial viability of the pay as you go model has been proven in Liberia through the Light up Liberia program. This has really opened the market for solar system manufacturers to start looking at Liberia as a viable market.

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