Government of Sierra Leone and World Bank Group hold Energy Sector Review Mission
Freetown, March 19, 2015 – – The Government of Sierra Leone and its Energy Sector Counterparts from the World Bank Group started a mission Monday March 16, 2015, with the aim of holding discussions with the Government on energy sector priorities and reviewing the performance of the Bank’s portfolio of projects currently under implementation.
Hon Kaifala Marah, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, in opening the kick-off meeting, welcomed the mission and tasked all participants to work assiduously to expedite the implementation of on-going projects and also find common grounds in putting together a proposal for the utilization of the additional funds the Bank is willing to provide. He thanked the Bank for fielding a mission at a time when many others are avoiding to come Sierra Leone due to the unfortunate Ebola situation.
Since providing its first credit to Sierra Leone in 1964, for the Kingtom Power Project, the World Bank, through its affiliate, the International Development Agency (IDA), has approved about US$200 million of funding for various energy sector projects and programs in Sierra Leone. The current active portfolio consists of two ongoing projects amounting to US$56 million, while the Bank has also committed to providing another US$30 million to the sector, with the ultimate goal to support a rebound of the economy post Ebola. Part of these funds will go to improve the commercial performance of the newly established EDSA.
According to Carol Litwin, the Bank’s Senior Energy Sector Specialist leading the mission, “investments in the energy sector are critical for economic growth and for ensuring that the reform efforts undertaken by the Government lead to the expected outcomes. Our main target for this mission is, therefore, to review the Bank’s current and future investments in the sector, as well as supervise the implementation of the ongoing Energy Access Project and Energy Sector Utility Reform Project. We hope, by the end of the mission, to also agree with the Government on a plan for the utilization of additional resources the Bank is willing to provide to the energy sector.”
The Bank is also considering the provision of an IDA guarantee to support the country’s first private power project. The proposed IDA guarantee covering government risks, together with IFC’s expected lending support, would facilitate the mobilization of some US$125 million capital to finance the project, paving the way for further introduction of private capital and expertise in infrastructure development.
The Bank Group’s private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is also in talks with key stakeholder for the development of 50 MW heavy fuel oil power plant under a 25 year power purchase agreement. According to Lorentz Nwachukwu, Senior Investment Officer of IFC, depending on the success of this first phase, IFC aims to assist in increasing total generation capacity by the private sector to 128MW.
The Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, who is chairing the mission on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, reiterated the need for the implementation teams on both the Bank and the Government sides to identify all challenges hindering the smooth implementation of on-going projects and forge on to deliver results for the people of Sierra Leone. “Our energy needs are huge, and without energy, all our efforts at economic recovery will come to a standstill, so let’s use this opportunity to identify ways to scale up project implementation,” he stressed.
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