According to the World Bank Group’s 2019 Progress Report, the world’s top 20 Least Electrified Countries are all located in the Sub-Saharan Africa where over 320 million people out of a billion population lacked access to electricity in 2017.
These 2017 Access Deficit Countries (ADCs) are listed in the chart accompanying this post where 3 of the 4 Mano River Union (MRU) countries, namely, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, are included (but not the Ivory Coast).
According to this chart, 5.8 million of Sierra Leone’s 7.6 million people (i.e. over 75% of the population) were not connected to an electricity distribution grid in 2017. This did not include those who were already connected to a grid but faced frequent power outages known locally as “blackouts”. Since then, the challenges have continued.
But, the good news is that Energy Minister Chief Alhaji Kanja Sesay has a 2017 pre-SLPP era baseline data to build on against his party’s next election contest in 2023. In fact, the World Bank’s next global energy progress report for 2018 will be out next year in 2020.
Minister Sesay must be on his toes to achieve an outcome between now and next year simply because next year’s report will measure for the first time a Julius Bio SLPP-era performance on energy based on the 2017 Ernest Bai Koroma APC era baseline. On this note, a lot of present developments are in Minister Sesay’s favour. Among them is the expectation that the West African Power Pool (WAPP) project, among other initiatives, will have been operational and start yielding early gains.
The Sierra Leone component of the WAPP alone costs 59.57 million US dollars, seeking to provide a common electricity supply grid connecting the 4 Mano River Union countries of the Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The other initiatives include a recently agreed US$40 million solar electricity project financed by another arm of the World Bank Group called the International Finance Cooperation to supply 50 megawatts of electricity via grid.
With all the new initiatives added to Bumbuna, Bankasoka, Goma etc, four things might be expected by 2020: –
(i) more Sierra Leonean households connected to an electricity grid regardless of whether the electricity source is hydro, thermal, solar etc;
(ii) a reduction in the frequency and gravity of power outages by a remarkable improvement in the continuity of electricity supply,
(iii) a reduction in the cost of payment for electric current utilization at household level.
(iv) a noticeable increase in the possibility of starting to see light at the end of the “tunnel for moving beyond Electricity for Household Consumption to Electricity for Industrialization and Job Creation (EFIJC)”.