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Recent History Demonstrates Expensive Solar Initiatives to Not Materialize

Less than 12% of households in Sierra Leone have access to electricity supply, and even less so among the country’s rural poor.

But this week’s announcement by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID – also known as ‘UK Aid’) to help 500,000 people in rural communities get powered up, could be a possible light at the end of a dark tunnel, after decade of unfulfilled promises by the government of Sierra Leone.

If successfully delivered, the Ministry of Energy’s Rural Renewable Energy Project, funded by UK Aid, will harness the power of solar energy to tackle energy poverty in rural communities across the country.

The total cost of this massive electrification project is not clear. But estimate suggests a capital requirement of about $100 million to make any serious impact on Sierra Leone’s rural communities.

But there have been similar big announcements of the development of solar electricity in Sierra Leone that never took off. For example, on the 30th of June 2014, the Koroma government was awarded $18 million dollars by the United Arab Emirates to develop a large-scale solar park in the capital Freetown.

Martin Abegglen

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