West Africa energy project gets AfDB boost By KEMO CHAM in Freetown | Friday, November 8  2013 at  12:24

High voltage power lines. PHOTO | FILE 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced a $190 million boost for a sub-regional electricity project linking Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“The AfDB leveraged its deep knowledge of the electricity sector in West Africa and rich experience in the definition and implementation of regional projects,” a statement from the bank said Wednesday.

The so-called CLSG project will connect the four countries through a 1,349km long high voltage line.

It is part of the larger West African Power Pool (WAPP) project, which seeks to link the national electricity companies in the region in order to increase power supply and lower energy cost.

Last year, the World Bank approved $176 million initial funding for the WAPP project, which ropes in eight of West Africa's least powered countries.

The whole WAPP project is estimated at $476 million.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is also expected to chip in, while beneficiary countries will contribute $20 million each.

AfDB funding will set the stage for the commencement of the first phase of the WAPP project connecting Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Political unrests

The second phase connects Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo.

Eleven sub-stations and two regional control centres will be constructed as part of the planned transmission and interconnection facility.

The project is scheduled for completion by 2017 and it will increase the average rate of access to electricity to 33 per cent down from 28 per cent.

About 125 localities are expected to be connected to the power grid, including 70 schools, 30 health centres and 1,500 cottage industries.

A total 24 million people will directly benefit from the project.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will import electricity cheaply from Côte d’Ivoire, which has a more advanced energy sector.

The power systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have been deteriorating from years of neglect.

All the four countries are recovering from political unrests which left their infrastructures in ruin.

Access rates in Sierra Leone and Liberia are put at 2 per cent while Guinea boasts of about 10 per cent.

WAPP project also intends to eventually enhances the exploitation of West Africa`s huge hydroelectric potential.