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Thursday, December 7, 2023

West African Countries Agree $311 Million Deal to Increase Access to Electricity

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By Festus Poquie

Four West African countries have signed the World Bank’s multimillion dollar renewable energy project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase electricity access to millions of consumers in Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Authorities from the benefiting countries approved the financial agreement for the Bank’s $311 million Regional Emergency Solar Power Intervention Project Wednesday in Freetown.

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio calls it the beginning of a revolution in energy supply and access.

“We are paying far more for energy now than we were 18 months ago. Very high and rising energy prices continue to have an adverse impact on other sectors of our economies,” he said.

The project aims to rapidly increase grid-connected renewable energy capacity and strengthen regional integration in the participating countries, the Bank said in a statement.

It will help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by financing the installation and operation of approximately 106 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power with batteries and storage systems, 41 megawatts expansion of hydroelectric power capacity, and by supporting electricity distribution and transmission interventions across the four countries, the Bank added.

The Bank is allocating $20 million to help the regional West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) to enhance the potential for power trade in West Africa and to facilitate knowledge sharing among ECOWAS member countries.

West Africa has one of the lowest electrification rates, with 220 million people living without access, coupled with some of the highest electricity costs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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