‘Big Light’ Keeps Coming -Liberia, IDA Signs US$90m Financing Agreement

MONROVIA – Delivering his sixth State of the Nation Address Monday, January 30, President Weah spoke rather elaborately about incredible efforts made and results achieved in his first five years to expand electricity to the nook and corner of Liberia and thereby spur growth and development. Already, according to him, to date, the national grid now extends to eight counties: namely, Montserrado, Bomi, Cape Mount, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland Counties, with high-voltage transmission line covering 254 kilometers, while our medium voltage transmission lines cover 641 kilometers. He said further that “today, there are over 180,000 households with access to grid electricity”. As if that was not enough, the Weah administration has once again has secured a US$90 million agreement for additional expansion of electricity in the country. The Analyst reports.

The Government of Liberia and the International Development Association (IDA) January 31, 2023 signed a financial agreement in the tune of US$90 million. The agreement was signed by

Under Part I of the Agreement titled, “Construction of Solar PV, BESS and Grid Connection”,    Liberia will benefit from support to the construction of a 20MWp Solar PV power plant and associated works, including construction of transmission lines for connection to the grid Mount Coffee Island, including through contracts for the design, supply and installation and operation and maintenance for one to three years of operations.

The Liberia-IDA Agreement comes under the new Regional Emergency Solar Power Intervention Project (RESPITE) which officially kicked off in Freetown to increase electricity access to millions of existing and prospective consumers in Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

RESPITE – a $311 million regional project supported by the World Bank and approved on December 20, 2022, with legal agreements signed today – aims to rapidly increase grid-connected renewable energy capacity and strengthen regional integration in the participating countries.

Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah was at the signing ceremonies which took place in Free Town, Sierra Leone.

 In remarks before the signing, Mr. Tweah thanked the World Bank for increasing financing in Liberia and other countries to resolve infrastructure challenges.

Africa, the Liberian Finance Minister said, “is going nowhere if it cannot close the large infrastructure gap,” and he thanked World Bank for “responding to this legacy challenge.” He however encouraged the bank to do more.

He said the 20MWp of solar capacity is critical for Liberia, which is on the move towards sustainable development and progress under the Weah administration.

According to him, 41MWp capacity expansion for Mount coffee Hydro with two more turbines is a game changer and the first salvo toward the via the project, which he said significantly improves “generational capacity and positions the mount hydro to achieve more”.

He expressed the need for stronger coordination.

It is believed that West Africa has one of the lowest electrification rates, with 220 million people living without access, coupled with some of the highest electricity costs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking at the signing ceremonies, at which time Sierra Leone also signed an Agreement with IDA, President Julius Maada Bio who presided was quoted as saying:  “We are paying far more for energy now than we were 18 months ago. Very high and rising energy prices continue to have an adverse impact on other sectors of our economies,”

“This regional intervention is much needed in the short term. Today, our countries are taking a bold step in the right direction. RESPITE is the beginning of a revolution in energy supply and access.”

President Maada Bio presided the official signing of RESPITE’s financial agreements, in the presence of official delegations from Chad, Liberia, Togo, the West Africa Power Pool, the World Bank, and other key stakeholders.

RESPITE aims to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by financing the installation and operation of approximately 106 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power with batteries and storage systems, 41 megawatts expansion of hydroelectric power capacity, and by supporting electricity distribution and transmission interventions across the four countries. It also includes a regional approach, providing $20 million to help the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) to enhance the potential for power trade in West Africa and to facilitate knowledge sharing among ECOWAS member countries.

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