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$300 Million spent on Electricity Development: Former Energy Minister reveals

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo

One of the most successful entities in the erstwhile APC led political administration headed by ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma is the Ministry of Energy. Under the leadership of Ambassador Henry .O. Macauley as Minister many achievements were scored, evident in increased electricity generation and supply to the utmost satisfaction of majority of the citizenry – especially Managements of large corporate businesses.

According to Henry Macauley it would be good for the Ministry of Finance to give details of the $300 million spent on electricity that did not translate to the growth the sector experienced.

The country, he said, further secured a $53 million funding for the complete overhaul of the Bo/Kenema Power Station to considerably improve electricity supply to those two major cities as well as several villages along the power lines. Several other projects are ongoing to generate more electricity and improve the quality of electricity supply across the country.

In 2007 the entire country’s electricity production was 47million kilowatt hours raised from a mere 10 megawatts. He was proud to state that he handed over the country with 350 million kilowatt hours produced from over 280 megawatts. He said they achieved that monumental success through various efforts including exploring thermal, hydro and solar potentials; thereby restoring power, for the first time in over thirty years to major towns across the country.

Ambassador Macauley’s success story includes increasing Energy Access from 10% to almost 25%, increase in annual 2014 electricity production from about 160 million kwh to almost 350 million kwh in 2017. “Also, we witnessed, as a nation, soaring installed capacity from 100MW to 282MW. There was also 350MW more in signed projects,” he said.

Furthermore, Transmission and Distribution drastically improved and more projects such as West Africa Power Pool (WAPP), Bo, Kenema, and India Exim were signed. Many will agree that 24 hours power supply in Freetown was achieved and the Ministry was considered to be most peaceful and stable Ministry of Energy ever in the history of the Sector.

In an exclusive interview with the former Minister, he succinctly pointed out that he launched the Electricity Crimes and Offences Committee to combat malpractice also expressing hope that such will continue furthering that the Amendment of the Electricity Act now allows private investors to work in many areas of electricity from generating to distributing, meter supply, mini grids, etc.

The former Minister emphasized that such should be continued also admonishing that the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and Government must reduce their expenditure.

During his four years as Minister of Energy successful efforts were made to amend certain laws which made it possible for National Electricity Generation to be separated from Sale and Distribution of Electricity. In that way, private entities are now legally able to invest in the Electricity sector.

“Consequently, the access to electricity supply is now expanding all over the country especially in provincial areas. Brand new electricity supplies have transformed the social livelihoods of many rural towns like Makali, Segbwema, Panguma, Gbinti, Conakrydee whilst places like Kono got electricity for the first time in 32 years; Magburaka for the first time in 33 years; Port Loko for the first time in 32 years and Lumley Beach for the first time after 32 years. Charlotte village is also set with a brand new hydro-electricity power supply,” the Ex-Minister remarked and added that it was during his leadership that successful international cooperation were formed which made it possible for two electricity interconnection projects to be signed, namely the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the CLSG (Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia Sierra Leone & Guinea) and these are set to contribute significantly to our national effort of overcoming energy shortfalls.

At the national front, he said, active ongoing projects and other planned projects such as Bumbuna Phase-2, Betmai, CEC, the Solar Park and various Solar Farms will soon bring on board an addition of almost 300MW which are already targeted to be shared nationwide including in Kailahun, Kenema, Kono, Bo, Pujehun, Bonthe, Moyamba, Mile-91, Kabala, Kamakwie.

He said there have been suggestions in the media at various times that the MOE was not having the full cooperation of the Ministry of Finance and that stalled many energy projects, including the Provincial Electrification, thereby seriously frustrating progress.

He suggested that the Minister of Finance should now give full support to the current Minister and not only in disbursing funds but also in engaging to seek appropriate financial models for energy projects.

He also advised that EDSA should reduce their technical and so called commercial losses and this can be achieved with more scrutiny and commitment from the Management. He added how he launched the Electricity Crimes and Offences Committee together with the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office, to combat malpractice and urged the new Administration to continue implementing this initiative.

The charismatic personality admonished all not to allow these massive gains to slide back and see our Country plunged back into the dark yesteryears. He proffered that we should search ourselves and expunge the attitudes that attenuated our progress and accelerate on those that pushed us forward.

He ended up by enjoining all to give full support and cooperation to his successor, Hon. KanjaSesay, whom he said he has already offered his support to ensure his tenure succeeds as his pinpointing that the cost of darkness is much higher than the cost of light.

The sector now has a large enough spinning reserve of power that should encourage manufacturers and industries to commence operations, knowing that there is power available. This will create jobs, generate taxes and grow the economy.

The Energy Wiz insists that electricity must not be politicised and must be provided for the benefit of all, because, as he concluded, “Light nar All Man Bizness”.

Ambassador Macauley has offered his services to support his successor, Alhaji Kanja Sesay with the hope the Sector will continue its growth.

He promised to release his full foue year Report to the Public soon and will be treating excerpts of this in future publications.

With his background in  Electrical Engineering, a successful  Businessman and a successful Diplomat who manned one of  the best Missions Sierra Leone had at that time, the Mission to Nigeria, few people know that this business magnate had been importing crude oil to this Country, and operating the Oil Refinery in the 90’s, to alleviate fuel scarcity in Sierra Leone. Again, fewer people know he was responsible for the clearing of the unsightly refuse dump at Spur Road, opposite the British High Commission that had become both an eyesore and a health threat. Again, fewer still know that using his engineering skills, he was at the helm of the transformative design of the Lungi International Airport and that through his intervention, the Presidential Lounge was completely reconstructed and refurbished, at no cost to Government. Blessed though with an unassuming nature, one will never guess the worth of this selfless Sierra Leonean until you talk to people outside of these shores who know him well, in Nigeria and elsewhere.

During the four years when he held the fort at the Ministry of Energy, there was a blend of private sector urgency and diplomatic patience in his approach to tackling the most difficult Ministry, aiming to meet with the stringent and ever rising demand for electricity and the constant pressure on his performance, and even on the erudite personality’s personal image, through which together with his team they shared many difficult times and sometimes his personal challenges.

It was during his tenure that the Ministry bagged the most successful Government institution of the year for three (3) years running by Diaspora Award and other organisations as well as the best Renewable Energy Ministry from ECREE.

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