The National Energy Policy maps out vision for energy sector
The 2009 opening of the Bumbuna hydro power plant in central Sierra Leone has immensely improved electricity supply to homes and businesses in Freetown, the capital of the small West African Country of Sierra Leone.
However, much of the countryside, like elsewhere in Africa, descends into darkness at nightfall, while 80% of households rely on, harmful, charcoal and wood for, energy for basic household duties such as boiling water, cooking and cleaning.
It is in this context that the of the launch of a National Energy Policy and Implementation Strategy by Hon. Chief Samuel Sam-Sumana, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, took place in Freetown in April (14th).
Sierra Leone is now one of the few countries in Africa to have a National Energy Policy, Prof. Ogunlade Davidson, the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, proudly, told national and international development partners from the public, and private, sector(s) attending the two day forum.
“This maps out our vision and what we want to see happen in the energy sector until 2025,” he said.
Energy is not just about bringing light to homes, said Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), based in Vienna.
It is an essential ingredient to drive economic growth and development in Sierra Leone, and elsewhere, he said, in his presentation encompassing key aspects of the “energy revolution” taking place throughout the world today.
The development of energy resources is one of the four pillars of the Government of Sierra Leone’s (GoSL’s) Poverty Reduction Strategy II (2008-12), (also known as, An Agenda for Change), which is supported by the United Nations system, and other national and international development partners.
The new policy was launched at the start of Sierra Leone’s first Renewable Energy Week, which focuses on solar energy and, was organized by the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Through its Private Sector Development Support Project, UNDP assists the Sierra Leone Government’s oversight of key initiatives and fosters a private sector response to economic growth, with an emphasis on human development and initiatives that support the alleviation of poverty.
While there is no specific Millennium Development Goal on energy, the achievement of MDG 1, reducing poverty by half by 2015, cannot happen without increased availability to energy sources, said Ms. Ratidzai Ndlovu, Representative, United Nations Food and Population Agency, speaking on behalf Mr Michael Schulenburg, the Executive Secretary of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
While the future of solar energy faces obstacles in Sierra Leone, mainly due to the present high capital cost of equipment, an abundance of solar energy and its suitability for rural electrification, especially towns and villages not connected to the national grid, make solar power an exciting source of green energy in future.
The Sierra Leone First Renewable Energy Forum takes place in Freetown from the 14th to 16th of April 2010 and focuses on issues and solutions surrounding the application of Solar Energy as part of a sustainable solution to Sierra Leone’s present and future energy needs.
Abdul Karim Bah, Communications Analyst, UNDP Sierra Leone. Tel: + 232 33 167 428. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org