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US$ 32 Million For 10 Mega Watts In Moyamba

By Patrick Sallia

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in the construction of Mini Hydros across the country including a -10 Mega Watts Singimi Mini Hydro in Moyamba District, estimated at Thirty-Two Million United States Dollars (US$ 32 Million).  Funds from the Government of Sierra Leone, ECOWAS Bank, Opec Fund For Investment and Development (OFID) is(US$2 Million) Two Million Dollars.

The Hydro is a step forward in contributing to the National Grid. Though it will not serve the entire Moyamba District, but significant areas are expected to benefit.

In August last year, UNIDO held a two- day stakeholders workshop at the Bintumani Hotel to conduct planning and commence the project in January 2013.  Latest report gathered so far has revealed that all is now left with the Energy Ministry to fast-track the commencement of the project.

The UNIDO Head of Operations in Sierra Leone Dr. Stevens Kargbo has said that once the project is complete, it will improve the energy needs of some households, Njala University and later the mining communities.

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It is estimated that eighty percent (80%) of Sierra Leone’s primary energy is derived from traditional biomass while the remaining twenty percent (20%) is obtained from crude oil and its by-products, namely kerosene, cooking gas and other petroleum products. This shows that the country is a net importer of energy.

Total installed capacity for electricity is 126 MW, mostly from oil-fired thermal plant. Only 5% of the total population of an estimated Six Million people has access to electricity.

Sierra Leone has being classed as one of the smallest member in West Africa countries with the highest cost of electricity generation and delivery in the world. However, there are several possible locations that have been identified including the Bankasoka Mini Hydro in the Port Loko District and the Charlotte Mini Hydro Site in the Western Rural District. Apart from the existing Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project (BHP), a 50 Megawatt Water Regulation and Hydropower Facility is located on the Seli River in the Tonkolili District. It was rehabilitated and commissioned in November 2009. There are other two Mini Hydros in Dodo in the Kenema District that are supplying electricity power to the East and Southern Province of Bo and Kenema during the rains with an existing installed capacity of six (6) Mega Watts that has the potential to be increased to 12 MW. Yele has an installed capacity of about One hundred and Twenty (120) Kilo Watts that is also in operation

A survey conducted in 1996 by a group calling itself Lahmeyer International (Ltd) has showed that Sierra Leone has Twenty-Seven (27) Hydro potential sites with a total of 2000 Mega Watts, which ranged from 2.6 Mega Watts at the Kabala Falls to 160 Mega Watts in Yiben

The Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Energy has plans to have 100% access to electricity by 2030 – in line with the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Goal and UNIDO believes that developing Hydropower will make electricity accessible to all, and stimulate industrialization. Therefore, it is supporting among other things, five (5) projects for Biomass Gasifier; totaling US$10 million as well as financing and giving technical aid to developing growth centers nationwide, installed Solar PV projects to generate 25, 16 and 11 Kilo Watts. This includes training of over fifty people from different Rural Communities as technicians to troubleshoot any problem in a safe and sustainable manner.

It could be noted that energy is among the five priorities in the Ernest Bai Koroma APC government that is privilege to have a Sierra Leonean born, Dr. Kandeh Yumkellah as Director General of UNIDO. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization has contributed to the country’s drive towards self reliance and sustainable development through economic growth, social empowerment and environmental sustainability since 2008 to date though more needs to be done.

The UNIDO’s Energy and Climate Change Director, Pradeep Monga had earlier revealed in an interview with the electronic media that support to Sierra Leone is just the beginning noting that “They will like to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in a series of scaling up and achieving its goals” and went on to state that “They will be very happy to assist the Ministry of Energy in capacity building and also put together policies that will create a conducive business environment that the private sector can invest to harness the potential of the country”

It should be noted that the Ministry of Energy has oversight responsibility with the energy sector. The National Power Authority (NPA) is responsible for the distribution of electricity throughout the country.

About the 10- Mega Watts Singimi Mini Hydro in Moyamba, Mr. Monga has said that there is need for an expansion and that UNIDO will later like to expand the provision pending the demand and availability of water resources

He however intimated that many lessons have been learnt from the successes and challenges of other Hydro Projects in Africa including Bumbuna by looking out for possibilities of constructing an alternative water storage system for continuous and smooth operations in the dry season.

Meanwhile, the former Moyamba District Council Chairman, David Waubay has suggested that the project must consider social amenities such as pipe-burn water, Health and Education Facilities. These amenities, he said mostly  bring discontent and dissatisfaction  among residents of various communities, adding that the culture and tradition of the people in most communities like anywhere in the world, must be respected although negotiations with the communities are ongoing,  the people have already understood that the project is meant for them.

Paramount Chief George Nyama Russell of Lower Banta Chiefdom, Gbangbatoke pointed out that they the host communities, which included Bagruwa Chiefdom must consider a great priority when the project shall have been completed in 2016. He said there are lots of wastes and loses in their main sources of livelihood, which is the fishing industry in the absence of a cold chain facility.

The only alternative at the moment he said is to dry and transport fish products to bigger markets. He pleaded with both UNIDO and the Government of Sierra Leone to temporarily provide them with a cooling system to enhance their living standards

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