Poor access to electricity is recognised as a binding constraint to long-term economic growth in Sierra Leone. The country is currently experiencing a net deficit of power and is in desperate need of new power sources. The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has developed an Energy Sector Roadmap and action plan with initiatives to increase energy access through technical and non-technical interventions. Part of the roadmap strategy is to incorporate Sierra Leone’s great Renewable Energy (RE) resources to provide security of supply to rural communities and to boost the economy.
To help address the energy infrastructure needs, UNOPS, on behalf of the Ministry of Energy, is implementing the project titled “Enhancing the Impact of Rural Renewable Energy in Sierra Leone.” The project, funded by the Government of Japan, aims to increase access to electricity and enhance economic growth in underserved rural communities. The project will facilitate the construction of 6 solar photovoltaic (PV) mini-grids systems in Bo District, Southern Province of Sierra Leone. The rural communities include: Naiagolehun, Petewoma, Serabu, Grima Tikonko, Upper Saama and Lower Saama.
The selected sites are in locations where other Japan-funded projects exist and where improved access to electricity will enhance Japan’s contributions further. The project targets 15,647 beneficiaries and aims to expand energy access to remote villages, leading to improved development outcomes in health, education and economic development to beneficiary communities. This will enable reliable, clean and affordable electricity and in turn improve social, economic and health benefits to rural communities. Community Health Centers (CHCs) will receive up to 6.6 kWh/day of free electricity. Providing electricity access to isolated communities will result in improved economic benefits, reducing the relative cost of energy access by eliminating the expense of alternative sources, such as batteries and kerosine, and will reduce or eliminate the cost of diesel generators for energy-reliant businesses.