World Bank approves US$50m to improve electricity access in Sierra Leone

SIERRA LEONE – The World Bank board of executive directors has approved a US$50 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) to improve access to electricity in Sierra Leone and enhance institutional capacity and commercial management of the sector.

The project will also be co-financed with a US$2.7 million grant by the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Fund.

The Enhancing Sierra Leone Energy Access project will support the country’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery by providing electricity to households, businesses, health clinics and schools. This is a critical part of the recovery process.

The project also supports the replacement of costly fuel generation plants with low-cost power, which would free up scarce fiscal resources for other urgent socio-economic needs.

The bank highlighted that this project would provide electricity to approximately 276,000 people and about 700 health facilities and schools and help cut an average of 15,135 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

“Improving access to electricity in Sierra Leone is a critical development accelerator. This project will help address the country’s key infrastructure deficits, which is one of the most fundamental elements for promoting sustainable growth and job creation in the COVID-19 recovery,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank country manager for Sierra Leone.

“More efforts are needed to improve the sector’s efficiency, as well as its overall financial sustainability. In addition to financing, the World Bank is also supporting a robust analytic and knowledge agenda.”

Only 23% of Sierra Leonean have access to electricity, which is below the sub-Saharan average of 30%. The gap in infrastructure is not only impacting people’s welfare and ability to access services, it is also severely impeding on competitiveness, job creation and poverty reduction.

Private companies mention inadequate electricity provision as a major cause for high costs, disrupted production, and reduced profitability.

The Enhancing Sierra Leone Energy Access project is aligned with the outcomes of the multi-stakeholder energy sector roundtable held in October 2019 and the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority turnaround roundtable in November 2019 where the Government and donor partners were in consensus on the sector’s priorities.

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