World Bank, Partners Hold Coordination Meeting To Ascertain Progress of Massive Electricity Project in Liberia

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Monrovia – Donors of the CLSG electricity project conducting a two-day coordination meeting in Monrovia to review the progress of work on the sub-regional project expected to benefit Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have announced that the commissioning of four of five transmission sub-stations in Liberia will be done in March 2020.

Making the disclosure at the start of the meeting on Monday, December 9, Mr. Mohammed Sheriff, General Manager of Transco CLSG – the multinational company managing the project – said by the end of December this year, four sub-stations will be completed and pre-testing of these stations will commence January 2020.

He clarified that the completion of the fifth station, which is being built in Botota, Bong County, will be delayed because that project was initiated very late. It started after the German Development Bank or KFW agreed to fund its construction.

He, however, emphasized the need for the government to be prepared to take on transmission and distribution of the power to customers when the lines are turn on next year.

“It’s our hope that as soon as we are done, the Liberian government will be able to take it from there,” said Mr. Sherif, who added that it will be “very unfortunate” when the project is completed and the government cannot embark on transmission and distribution.

“There’s one thing to bring the electricity, there’s another thing to get connected to the electricity – if Transco were to come today is the government of Liberia ready? That is the key question we will all be discussing today.”

The meeting is being attended by key donor partners of the project including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the German Development Bank or KFW.

Pictorials presented in powerpoint during the meeting showed the level of work being done on the sub-stations and the transmission lines which will run from the Ivory Coast to Liberia via the five sub-stations.

“The energy sector remains critical…, it affords so much potential but we continued to be challenged – we have arrived at the point where we must meet those challenges head-on with imagination and innovative solutions.”

– Gesler Murray, Mines and Energy Minister, Liberia

Mr. Khwima Nthara, the World Bank Country Manager, also emphasized the importance of the project to Liberia’s economy and development, adding that when the lines are powered, it will help alleviate the challenges the country faces.

“We are looking forward to the March 2020 target date because this is a project that has been long-awaited by the people of Liberia,” he said. 

“We will like to recommit our support to the project going forward and to work with all stakeholders – government, development partners and others involve in making sure this project comes to fruition because the benefits will be immense for Liberia.”

The CLSG project when completed will enable Liberia import power from Ivory Coast and also export to other countries in the sub-region including Guinea and Sierra Leone. 

The government will then use it as a means of increasing its revenue generation and at the same time solve the power quagmire, economists have said. 

Earlier, the CLSG lines were expected to be turned on by the end of December this year but several challenges including the rainy season have pushed the deadline further.

However, when the lines are on, TRANSCO CLSG will bring in the electricity to the substations while LEC would sell to customers based on a transmission service agreement with TRANSCO CLSG and Power Purchase Agreement with Cote D’Ivoire. 

This means the amount of power purchased will be transmitted through the substations and LEC will take it from the substations and distribute to customers.

Mines and Energy Minister Gesler Murray thanked all the donors and said the government is determined to meeting the challenges within the next five months to ensure the high grid power lines are activated. 

“The energy sector remains critical…, it affords so much potential but we continued to be challenged – we have arrived at the point where we must meet those challenges head-on with imagination and innovative solutions,” the Energy Minister said.

He stressed that the postponement of the CLSG electrification completion “will hurt” Liberia but added that “we must now pick ourselves up” by curbing challenges affecting the energy sector which include removing illegal connections to the current LEC power grid.

“We need to work hard to make sure we have the commercial viable loads identify before we turn on CLSG’s (line),” he said, while asking the donors to work together to meet the March 2020 deadline.

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