Less than 20% of people in Sierra Leone have access to electricity. Corruption, poor management and lack of leadership have hampered efforts in improving the country’s electricity sector, despite hundreds of millions of dollars having been invested by successive governments, since 2001.
Presenting the agreement for ratification by MPs, the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said that the West African Power Pool Project will reduce the cost of electricity supply for Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He informed Members of Parliament that the project will also see the construction and improvement of electricity infrastructure in the country, including high voltage transmission, as well as a resettlement action plan for affected communities.
He added that the $59 million loan will be repaid over a period, with minimum interest rate. He also said that the initial agreement was signed in 2012, with additional financing signed in January 2018.
According to the Parliamentary Public Relations Unit, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Francis Amara Kai-Samba of SLPP, described the Agreement as “laudable and non-controversial”.
He said that in spite of the huge investment already made by successive governments, electricity still remains a challenge in Freetown and other parts of the country. He also referred to the Agreement as a “fine one” which aims to improve access to electricity supply at a reasonable cost across the country.
Shiaka Musa Sama – an Independent MP said the $59 million loan is aimed at providing electricity at cheaper rate and added that electricity supply should be extended to rural communities.
He spoke about the problems associated with weak project implementation and the resettlement of affected communities. Poor families, he said, cannot afford the services of lawyers to challenge the government.
Hassan Sesay MP for the opposition APC also described the $59 million loan agreement as “non-controversial”. He said the agreement should be embraced in its entirety.
Speaking about the benefits of achieving regional economic integration, he said that improving energy and water supply is essential for Sierra Leone.
Aaron Aruna Koroma MP for the opposition APC commended the SLPP government for the project. He recalled that this loan agreement had initially been arranged by the former Koroma-led APC government.
He said there will be no development without electricity, and that sustainable energy supply will encourage investors who are currently spending a lot on running private generators.
Concluding the debate, the leader of the opposition APC and the leader of Government Business – Chernor Bah and Mohamed Tunis, respectively concurred to the agreement, which they said is aimed at benefiting both the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone by improving access to electricity supply.
The loan agreement was ratified on Tuesday 10th July 2018.