World Bank Strengthens Liberia’s Electricity and Informal Business Sectors
Monrovia – The World Bank and the government of Liberia on Monday signed the financial agreements for two projects, the Liberia Electricity Sector Strengthening, and Access Project (LESSAP) in the amount of US$ 64.2 million and the Recovery of Economic Activity for Liberian Informal Sector Employment (REALISE) project in the amount of US$10.
Dr. Khwima Nthara, the Country Director of World Bank speaking at the signing ceremony at the Boulevard Palace Hotel said the importance of the two projects cannot be over-emphasized.
He added that there is much work that remains to be done to ensure “the universal and affordable” access to electricity in Liberia.
“Currently, only 7 percent of the population has access to grid electricity with 21 percent having access to off-grid sources of electricity. At the same time, for those who have access, tariffs are high,” Nthara said.
He added: “It’s very difficult to see how the Liberian economy can be transformed without a bold approach to solving the energy problem. That is why we the World Bank at the World Bank together with other development partners decided to approach this problem systematically.”
The World Bank Liberia Head says his entity has laid out to the Broad a 3-phase Program of support over a period of 10 years with the objective of increasing access to what he terms like sustainable, reliable and affordable energy in Liberia.
“This the first time the World Bank has approved such an approach in the energy sector, anywhere in the World,” Nthara added.
“What we are signing today is the first phase of this multi-phase approach. Under this first phase of the MPA, we are mobilizing a total of US$64.2 million as follows: US$30 million in IDA resources, of which US$15 million is a grant and US$15 million in IDA credit, US$29 million of funding from the IDA scale-up window (SUW) in the form of an IDA credit, US$2.7 million of grant resources from the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Fund, and US$2.5 million of grant resources from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program Multi-Donor Trust Fund (ESMAP),” he stated.
The grant resources mobilized under the Multi-donor Trust Fund according to the World Bank Country Director are specifically for the electrification of health’s facilities as part of building resilience to COVID-19.
“The need for electrification of the health centers across the country has become a critical priority in addressing pandemics like Ebola and COVID-19, and we are happy to be able to meet a critical need during these trying times.”
The project, according to the World Bank Liberia Head, the full implementation of the first phase of the project will increase access to electricity by 12 percent.
Turning to the second financing agreement, the Recovery of Economic Activity for Liberia Informal Sector Employment which is worth US$10 million, the World Bank said his institution support is based on the fact that COVID-19 impacted the life of many Liberia negatively. He added that US$18 million for testing, contact tracing, and treating cases.
At the peak of the pandemic, we had to go into lockdown, which affected formal and inform businesses. We know that many people lost their jobs. It is for this reason that we also asked our Broad to approve a package of US$10 million to help the informal sector in Liberia to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
This project, he says will provide grants and business skills training to 4,000 vulnerable households to revive or start small businesses, as well as temporary employment and wages to 15,000 poor individuals, half of whom will be women.
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE). The project will also be financed through an IDA Credit of US$ million credit and an IDA grant of US$ million.
These resources may solve all the problems, but we believe they will go a long way to complementing the efforts of the Government and other development partners.
Adding up, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah said under the leadership of President George Weah, the World Bank is living up to it commitment.
“Today signing is moving resources in a very critical sectors and I think it is a good opportunity to open quick relief the importance of the energy sector,” Tweah said.
Also speaking the Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson praise the World Bank for the two financing agreements adding that it is good for the country’s post COVID-19 recovery.
“It is our hope that other development partners will join the World Bank as there are huge the gap that needs to be cut to support economic recovery for the vulnerable especially in rural Liberia,” Minister Wilson said.