Gov’t Delivers on 24/7 Electricity Promise -As LEC Switches On Transmission lines

MONROVIA – The Government of Liberia through the Liberia Electricity Corporation made good its promise to deliver a 24 hour, 7 days a week electricity to the country starting with Monrovia and its environs when it on  yesterday, Thursday, December 1, 2022 switches on transmission lines at a quiet but impressive ceremony at Mount Coffee which was attended by top government officials including the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean who represented President George Manneh Weah, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Gesler Murray, the US Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, his EU counterpart, Laurent Delahouse, Senator Simeon Taylor, representatives of the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the CLSG Transcorp, CI Energy, Côte d’Ivoire, Monie Captan, Acting CEO and chair of the Board of Directors, among others.

In his welcome remark, Mr. Captan said the day marked a dream come through after all the efforts put into the project by the Government of Liberia, development partners and other stakeholders and expressed excitement over the completion of the exercise.

“Today we are here to celebrate the flow of energy from Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia through the CLSG transmission line. We have achieved this major milestone through the consummation of a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and the CIE and CI Energy and the transmission agreement between LEC and the CLSG.

“The energy we are purchasing has been earmarked to fill the energy gap created in the dry season due to the low water level and inflow at the facilities at Mount Coffee Hydro.

“In the past our only option to fill in the energy gap was our thermal plant on Bushrod Island which runs on fuel at a cost unbearable to LEC” he said

Mr. Captan who has being a key figure behind the revamping process of the energy in the country having served as the head of the Millennium Challenge Corporation that invested a lot in the Hydro Project said the war in Ukraine contributed significantly in the escalation of prices of oil, resulting into an enormous cost that was not sustainable to LEC.

He spoke about the cheering news of the massive anti-power theft war being waged by LEC under the stewardship of Madam Mary T. Broh who is the Vice Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Power Theft and supported by the Liberian National Police. He said so far for the past two weeks in the Paynesville area, more than 4,000 cases of power theft were reported while a little over 5,000 residents have made requests for meters and about a quarter of a million United States dollars have been collected.

He said this development shows that the future of sustaining LEC and making the entity financially viable exists.

Giving the overview of the CLSG project, the Chief Executive, Mohammed Sheriff said the initiative was started by the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) in 1982 when they met to discuss how electricity could be delivered to member countries that could be competitive and affordable, adding that it was in 1989 that concrete steps towards developing a roadmap moving forward so as to ensure the socio-economic advancement of the sub region.

He said the final actualization of the process came on stream in 2012 when the ECOWAS leaders signed an international treaty for the establishment of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which will finance, construct, own, maintain, develop and operate the interconnectivity of energy in the subregion and that gave rise to the CLSG project.

He said for Liberia, it has constructed 5 substations and power lines from Mah in Cote d’Ivoire to Yekepa, Nimba County and also passes through Gbarnga and then Buchanan to Robertsport and then finally into Sierra Leone. He said 4 of the 5 substations have already been energized to have the power to generate electricity at once. He said the 5th which is the Gbarnga substation will soon be energized.

Both representatives of the World Bank and the African Development Bank who were also part of the project expressed delight for the completion phase of the project and hope that both the government and the LEC work towards sustaining it. They all committed their support in whatever capacity deemed necessary to further expand the project.

The EU Ambassador Laurent Delahouse said the realization of the project accentuates the essence of regional cooperation and like the EU that pools resources to promote development in member countries, ECOWAS could do similar things to produce milestone projects similar or more than the energy project brought to Liberia through the regional arrangement.

For his part, the US Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy said he was happy to be present on the occasion the government was delivering one of the cardinal development projects that will accelerate socioeconomic development to the country. He said it is a key thing to do if the government will provide basic social services to its citizens.

He said from the report he heard from Mr. Captan about the new trend that is targeting power theft. “Obviously, this is a welcome development because power theft has been a major obstacle to make LEC a functional entity and also a serious threat to the citizens accessing electricity”, he said, stressing that the government should look for whatever resources possible for LEC to be sustained.

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Gesler Murray whose institution was at the forefront of all the negotiations with the parties said at the end of the day, he was a happy man and thanked the donor partners, the institutions handling the West Africa Power Pool project and all those who made the project possible.

He said the next phase will be the expansion process of LEC to deliver up to 150 MW in the shortest possible time , thus further contributing to the socio-economic development of the country. He asserted that LEC will not only be importing energy but will also be distributing the same to parts of Liberia and will grow to provide services to all parts of the country.

The program was crowned by a speech from President George Manneh Weah read on his behalf by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General who has been acting as President in the absence of Mr. Weah said that he was happy that the government was able to follow through all the rigorous processes to live to its promise of delivering electricity to the citizens and that the government will make sure to deliver to live up to the commitment of the agreement reach with the CLSG.

“The government of Liberia will provide significant resources towards our commitment despite the limited fiscal space and competing demand.

“The sustainability of this project is of utmost importance to us and this requires every consumer to pay for the electricity where he or she consumes. When everybody pays, the burden becomes lighter and will no longer be a burden in the long run”, President Weah said.

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