When Liberia’s civil conflict broke out and opposition to the Samuel K. Doe administration were joyously chanting belligerent and revolutionary songs, not too many people knew that it would take the country back fifty years in terms of development. By the time dust settled on the ravages of the conflict, the country was left totally bare, strapped of every modern infrastructure the nation had depended on, in addition to colossal loss of lives. Key amongst ruined infrastructures was the electricity sector which was expanding gradually. Fighting forces decimated the country’s major source of power, the Mount Coffee Hydro, subjecting the capital Monrovia and other counties benefiting into impenetrable darkness for decades that followed. The cost to restore electricity was beyond the handling of the postwar nation. This attracted Uncle Sam to step in help its former quasi colony have some smiles. The conduit of the intervention became known as the Million Challenge Compact or MCC which was rolled out over a period of years with the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia spearheading its implementation. At the end of 25 years, the project put at over quarter a billion United States Dollars is folding, and its head, CEO Monie Captan, has been reflecting on the history and impact at a final closing problem yesterday. The Analyst reports.
The institution that braved the storm and started a serious electricity provision to the people of Liberia, particularly in the capital Monrovia, has parked to leave the country.
The man who was at the helm of implementing the Millennium Challenge Compact, the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia, Monie Captan, has been providing details of the work of the Compact and its impact.
In a statement delivered at the final closing program of the Compact held on the grounds of the Mount Coffee Hydro Dam, Mr. Captain recalled that the MCC came into force on January 20, 1996 and it provided a grant of $256,726,000 for an energy project and a roads project.
According to him, the projects were selected in response to the findings of the Liberia Economic Constraints Analysis of 2013, which found that access to reliable and affordable electricity and poor road conditions were binding constraints to economic growth.
The Compact, he said, therefore had a set as its objectives that include to provide access to more reliable and affordable electricity and improve the planning and execution of routine, periodic and emergency road maintenance.
According to the CEO, the Compact covered 40% of the project cost while the Government of Norway, Government of Germany through its development bank KfW, and the European Investment Bank covered the remaining cost of the project. Additionally, the compact provided extended funding support for the Operations, Maintenance, and Training contractor for the hydro.
He also noted that the MCC funding support for the establishment of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission, through budget funding for 3 years covering salaries, office space, vehicles, furniture, IT and office equipment, management information system, training, and regulatory studies.
Regarding roads, Mr. Captan said roads project focused on building capacity and strengthening institutions for a cost-effective approach to nationwide road maintenance.
The activities included capacity development for road maintenance planning which entailed collection of road data, analysis and training leading to the development of a 5-Year Road Maintenance Plan.
In addition to these projects, the CEO further indicated that manager of the MCC, the MCA-L, has implemented several Resettlement Action Plans and small infrastructure projects for Project Affected Communities.
MCAL has also implemented a robust monitoring and evaluation plan, which provides important data on measurable indicators of the various projects.
The implementation of these projects have contributed to increased access to reliable and affordable electricity which, he said, included access rate has increased from 4% to 12% with over 82,000 customers connected; tariffs were reduced from 57 cents to 35 cents with the commissioning of Mt. Coffee hydro and there was improved management and training of LEC staff; something that contributed to improved network reliability through less number of outages and duration of outages.
Mr. Captan commended President Manneh Weah for his strong support of the Compact.
“Most of you may not be aware, but when the compact went to the National Legislature for ratification, President Weah, then Senator Weah, was very instrumental in getting the Compact ratified,” he said, adding, “Mr. President, thank you for that strategic support which now bears its fruits.”
He also lauded Finance and Development Planning Minister, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah, and members of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia for their oversight and support.