By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
As the need for going off-grid in energy access continues to increase in the country, the Power for All campaign initiative in Sierra Leone has organized a one day workshop for Journalists on distributed renewable energy solutions in the country. This training came after the governments of Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom signed a compact in May this year to ensure private sector involvement into this venture. Representatives from the media including the Print, Electronic and online media converge at the Hub Hotel in other to gain knowledge about renewable energy in the country and how it will help salvage poverty across rural communities in the country.
Power for All Sierra Leone was launched in the country during the first quarter of this year and from then it has been working with the government of Sierra Leone, the private sector and civil society stakeholders to address the energy poverty in the country.
Among the campaign’s priority areas are to assist the government with the implementation of the energy Africa compact and the integration of decentralized renewable into energy policy and planning and build the capacity of the renewable energy association of Sierra Leone. It also prioritizes raising the awareness to communicate the power of decentralized solar technologies and sector development to the public through educational programs and the media.
The Campaign Manager in Sierra Leone, Madam Ami Dumbuya said the key objectives of training the local journalists is to showcase distributed renewable energy (DRE) technologies and business models, hear stories about social impact and the difference Distributed Renewable Energy has made so far as well as to inform the journalists on how this market has emerged in East Africa and how it might emerge in Sierra Leone. The workshop also aimed at having a discussion on how the Power for All team campaign can support local journalists to cover energy access in a compelling way that is highly relevant to readers and listeners. She went on further to say that the Sierra Leone energy revolution has provided an important way to catalyze clean energy in the country adding that it is fantastic to see the media get behind the initiative.
Electricity is fundamental to human and economic development and yet in Sierra Leone 99% of the rural population is un-electrified while in the urban areas thousands of people lack the required power in their homes. Official statistics show that in rural towns, generators are used to charge mobile phones and yet charging stations often only available for short period with frequent shutdowns due to lack of fuel.
Ami believes that switching from expensive battery powered torches and kerosene to solar lighting in Sierra Leone will save the country’s residents about $105 million dollar a year whilst larger decentralized renewable products can be used to power enterprises, health services, schools and agriculture.
The Sierra Leone Energy Revolution aims to attract decentralized solar enterprises and investors in the country to meet ambitious energy access targets in other to distribute 50,000 solar units by the end of this year and 250,000 solar units by the end of 2017. It is not yet clear if the 50,000 solar units promised to distributed by the end of the year will be achieved. Concerned whether the country had achieved the promised solar so far, Ami said “a huge progress had been made towards meeting this target”.
However, with lots of information on distributed renewable energy now provided to journalists, it is hoped the necessary information will be provided to the public on the essence of solar energy in the country.