Renewable Energy Limbo – Indigenous Return to Old Lifestyle


Vaihun District, Lofa County – Rural inhabitants in the far part of Africa’s oldest independent nation, particularly Yandohun continue to move on with their old life-style, traditional lamp otherwise known as Jacko-lamp, ordinary lamp or sometimes candle light to move about during the night hours, since the source of energy introduced to them some four years ago is longer in existence.

The Rural Renewable Energy Agency in 2011, a Liberian Government in partnership with USAID project began providing electricity to people of Yandohun, Vaihun District along Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone where inhabitants in that area experienced electricity supply for the first time.

The hydro which serves as the source of electricity for the area has been experiencing a major breakdown since January, 2016, leaving residents in a state of confusion, an inhabitant told a team of journalists.

Before the breakdown of the hydro facilities, each household was reportedly paying LD200 a little over US$ 2 monthly for a supply of two amps of electricity which provided power to several households’ in the towns and other surrounding towns due to its high power voltage that could not be contained alone.

The total number of houses that were benefiting from government Rural Renewable Energy in Yandohun are estimated at 162, leaving out the street lights, while two other towns were benefiting as well.

The breakdown in electricity supply was at the same time attributed to electrical problem, while those responsible to manage the hydro have reportedly left the town for Monrovia, informing residents that they are in the process of acquiring equipment.

FrontPageAfrica has gathered that there were four people trained to help with the electricity supply to various homes in and around Yandohun but their trainings were restricted to basic wiring and not on the hydro facilities; something that has placed them in the position of doing nothing to handle the present situation the hydro is faced with, especially where only two persons are actively involved with the work.

Francis Momo, is one of those trained in wiring at the Booker Washington Institute in Margibi County. “Well we don’t really know, I think that’s electrical problem. Our people been coming from Monrovia to get this and that and since they went, we have been calling them up to now”.

Since the government reintroduced the rural electricity supply in the area, Momo says it brought total transformation in the livelihoods of many, making them feel like they are living in the city.

“Well it is good because since we have current, it makes the area fine in the night, people can make cool-aid to carry in the market, some people get their video in their houses and welding machine and things”, he said.

He said those hired by the RREA to work with electricity supply have been addressing series of minor problems confronting them and are unable to handle the hydro problem.

Really missing Light  

Mohammed Varflay, a local farmer in Yandohun lamented the lack of electricity since four months after government boast of a nonstop rural energy supply when streetlights were placed on for the first time in the area sometimes 2011.

Mr. Varflay said the electricity supply had been helpful to him, enabling him to use his freezer for cooling water and keeping his children at home during the night hours to watch video rather than moving about.

“I am really missing this current and want the people responsible to come and fix this current for us”, Mr. Varflay maintained.

Rough Way to Vaihun

Like most parts of rural Liberia Vaihun is no exception to bad road condition, as reaching the area seems very difficult for vehicles, least to say commuters.

FrontPageAfrica has gathered that there is not much travel done on the road from Voinjama, the capital of Lofa County to Vaihun as commuters prefer using the Sierra Leonean route or Foyah region to easily reach the town.

Several hills along the road make it impossible for taxis to travel the five hours as motorcycles are the only means of travel while people walk long distances to get to market sites or seek medical attention.

The Vaihun closeness to Sierra Leone has made the area a center of business interaction outside Liberia with the Sierra Leonean Dollars being valued and preferably used than the Liberian Dollars.

Meanwhile, rural inhabitants living along the route to Vaihun are complaining of their inability to reach the area as a result of the distance and bad road condition, something that keep drivers plying the route.

Willie N. Tokpah – [email protected]