Sierra Leone is seeking sustainable partnership from external donors to be able to deal with the fiscal pressure on the country’s electricity sector as the government subsidy policy begins to bite hard.
Addressing stakeholders in the energy sector at a roundtable in Freetown recently, President of the West African nation, His Excellency Dr Julius Maada Bio revealed that the government spent in excess of Le140 Billion ($13,709,472.00) to subsidise electricity supply in 2020 alone.
“I am concerned about the pressure on Government finances, but I believe that we can collaborate as partners to find a sustainable financial model that will serve us in the long-term. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, partner and foreign funding sources to support the energy sector have dwindled somewhat. But the need for available and affordable electricity has not diminished,” he said.
According to him, the meeting was “to discuss and assess the key issues and challenges of the sector, and agree on priority areas for intervention, through a collaborative effort of the government and partners,” in ways that aligned with the policy direction they had mapped out as a government.
He said they had identified priorities for the sector because they believed that reliable, affordable, accessible and clean power was critical for the development of the country’s economy.
He noted that in addition to supporting his government’s human capital development priorities, they also recognised that enhanced energy security would support investments, which in turn would create opportunities and jobs.
“A greater proportion of clean energy in the mix especially for rural-off-grid areas also supports climate change resilience. Toward those objectives, our partners have generously supported initiatives to deliver reliable electricity. Permit me to identify a few of these initiatives: The unbundling of vertically integrated NPA to create EDSA, EGTC and EWRC; the implementation of standard operating procedures and metrics for EDSA with the support of the World Bank Management Contractor.”
Minister for Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay said the presence of His Excellency Julius Maada Bio at the opening of the roundtable discussions was a show of his commitment to revamping the energy sector.
He added that the discussion would focus on priority sector issues, making ways forward with initiatives that support the requirements of the MCC Compact.
“Sierra Leone is a recipient of funds from international donors for the electrification of towns project. The government is committed to building partnerships with private sector players to ease the burden on the government,” he said.