Sierra Leone awaits the arrival of Manor River Union electricity

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 May 2020:

Intermittent eletricity supply has had a massive impact on Sierra Leone’s economy in the last ten years. Billions of Dollars have been lost in productivity and economic growth  as industry, public instititons and households suffered the perenial shortage of energy.

Although the current government has slightly improved supplies through a contract with the Turkish Powership supplying electricity off the coast of the capital Freetown, this comes at a huge cost.

Sierra Leone needs a miminum of 500 Megawatts of constant supply of electricity. The country’s Bumbuna hydro-electricity dam has a capacity of about 85 Megawatts. Due to technical difficulties the dam can only manage supplying just half its capacity at the  best of times.

Despite investments costing over $400 million and government’s plans to redevelop and expand the Bumbuna dam, little progress has been achieved.

The Manor River Union Electrification Project may well be Sierra Leone’s electricity lifeline, when completed, as Mabinty M. Kamara of Politico News reports: 

The long-awaited energy supply from the West Africa Power Pool Project (WAPP) is still on course to arriving in Sierra Leone, despite the coronavirus pandemic, say officials in charge.

This is the electrification project that aims to provide electricity to the four Mano River Union countries of Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Guinea.

When completed, it will bring reliable and affordable electricity to the countries which have had a perennial problem with electricity, especially outside their capitals.

The engineer in charge, Paul Charles Saffa, says they are hopeful that with the current pace of the work, between September and late October this year, they would have completed the line from Ivory Coast to Yiben in Koinadugu in Sierra Leone.

He said none of the contractors have asked for an extension of the timeline of the project which involves a power transmission line of 225 KW, running through 1,303 KM with 11 substations across the four countries, for which Liberia will have four stations, Guinea two and Sierra Leone five. Ivory Coast is the host.

Engineer Saffa – the Country Manager of TRANSCO CLSG – Sierra Leone, who is  leading the project, told Politico that three of the five stations that are supposed to be in Sierra Leone have already been completed.

He said: “For Sierra Leone, we have five substations – one each in Kenema, Kono, Bumbuna, Fadugu (Yiben) and Kamakwie. As I’m speaking, the ones in Kenema and Bumbuna have been completed. For Kono, it’s almost complete, but because of the coronavirus, the experts can’t travel to do the installation. But we are hopeful that it will be fixed as soon as flights start coming in. For that we are very much ok with our deadline.

“The line that comes from the Liberia border (Mano) to Kenema is 50% complete. The line from our substation in Bumbuna town to the other substation in Fadugu (Yiben) is also complete; in fact we are thinking of commissioning it”.

Saffa said the timeline from Ivory Coast to Bumbuna was July. “So we are within our timeline except for this COVID 19 which has disturbed some parts of the project especially with the inter-district lockdown”.

The Sierra Leone line covers Pujehun, Kenema, Kono, Tonkolili, Bombali Koinadugu, Kambia and Karene, with a 530-km line that runs from the Liberia border.

Despite the delay, Engineer Saffa said that they have been able to continue some work in their operational towns within the COVID-19 guidelines – with support from the government.

He  added that of the 530-KM line, they were supposed to hand over 300 KM with over 70% of that done  with some work left to be done on the Liberia portion; and one other small portion between Kono and an unnamed town to connect the cables.

He assured that most of the materials needed to do the job are in country with few on the high sea.

“We don’t want to give definite deadlines due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, but I can safely say [that] with our current speed of work, we will have a good Christmas present,” he concluded.

16 Comments

  1. We are tired of rhetoric and platitudes, we just need a constant and consistent supply of electricity. If President Bio can pull it off it will be an unforgettable and unbreakable platform for him come 2023. It will also stand as an indelible legacy for him. If possible, as dictated by resources, the supply of electricity should go in tandem with the supply of pipe borne water-clean and safe.

    In 2023 the President in his campaign, upon achieving the monumental goals of a constant supply of electricity and pipe borne water, can say to us “me nar President electricity en watter en more good tinks dae nar road “. Who would disbelieve him then with the naked evidence right in front of them?

  2. Let’s wait and see whether this project will give us uninterupted electricity for the foreseeable future. I wonder!

  3. Thank you very much, Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, for this information of interest to people like me. First of all, I don’t get Engineer Saffa’s rating of the transmission lines in kilowatts (KW). Usually, we consider transmission lines as open circuits transporting electrical energy or electricity from the source to the substations. We talk about power in watts when the load is connected. Was Engineer Saffa trying to tell me, that the power rating of the transmission lines without load is 225Kw or saying that the total power of all five stations is 225kw? If the later was what he was referring to, then each substation will deliver 45kw of energy to their areas which is not enough.

    Kono District alone needs at least 50Mw of electrical energy to exploit its massive God-given potential to trigger Sierra Leone’s Industrial revolution. 45Kw is chicken power but manageable. With 50 Mw of electrical power, the great engineers who I believe are ready, Google’s internet by balloon to Kono District and its strategic geographical position – Guinea and Liberia, our country’s industrial revolution will start. Thank you very much, Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, for allowing me to comment on this article. God bless Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas and Engineer Saffa.

  4. What about the attitude thing Ngor Amadu. Mind you we have had the Dodo dam since the late 80s, yet no industrial development in either Kenema, Bo nor in any of the three chiefdoms within the area (Dodo, lower Bambara and Sembaru). It has a lot to do with our attitude toward development – how we perceive what is required to grow out of the enshrined poverty, our commitment and dedication to live a better life tomorrow without thieving. The over or may I say chronic dependency on other factors for our livelihood other than ourselves has almost killed every reasonable developmental concept. Let us first spend some years talking about this attitude thing.

  5. I’m really afraid of the timeline for this electricity project in Sierra Leone, due to so many hanging excuses we will be expecting at the end. Look at the slow pace the project is going, it could be very difficult for this electricity project in Sierra Leone to be completed before the end of 2020. But I still pray for its completion before the end of this year.

  6. It is wonderful to hear such news. With this I have the full hope that my country, our country, Will be released from the chains of darkness. I must commend all the stakeholders for such a wonderful achievement.

  7. As important as this development may be. I see Freetown is not in the mix. I can hear nay sayers bantering that Freetown has had power while other areas have not. Do not forget power in the capital is not reliable and is the sit of government. EVERYTHING starts in FT. Another example of our misguided priorities.

    • “As important as this development may be. I see Freetown is not in the mix” Cyberenforcer.

      Cyberenforcer, just because Freetown is not mentioned as a home of one of the substations does not mean that Freetown is not part of this novel development effort. We cannot have substations in every city and town of Siera Leone. It makes no economic or logistical sense. Notice that Bo and Makeni are also not homes to a substation.

      When the project is complete, Freetown will get its electricity supply from Bumbuna while Bo will get its from Kenema. The northern towns without substations will get their supplies from Fadugu and Kamakwie.

  8. God bless Mama Salone and this project to be effective. My only concern regarding this information is where the engineer keeps on blaming Covid19 and lockdown/inter district. But government has already eased all essential works and that shouldn’t affect their time frame or schedule.

  9. Atlas, some amount of good news pertaining to our beloved nation Sierra Leone. The availability of electricity is indeed a catalyst for economic activities. So we are elated and anxiously waiting for this project to come to fruition. Thanks to all the major stakeholders including previous and current government officials who had contributed one way or another in initiating / implementing this project. God bless our nation and we continue to pray for peace and developmental initiatives such as this.

    • All Praise and Thanksgiving to thee we raise with these our thankful hearts for also lighting our darkness turning it into light. Please forgive our delays for your loving kindness is better than carnal life my lips shall Praise you at all times thanks for permitting electricity to flow for your glory Amen Mery Christmas and thanks to the community of engineers the Lord lighten your way your life and all you do in Jesus Christ mighty nameiana we pray Amen thanks tenki medaawasi

  10. Instead of talking about harnessing the Binkongoh falls in Kono District, they are talking about the arrival of electricity from the Mano River Union. They’ve forgotten the pledge and promise made during The Sierra Leone Progressive Independence Movement – SPLIM, later branded as DAWO era to construct the dam. Behold, all was just bluff and empty talk, because they wanted the support of heavy weight politicians like late K. C. Gbamanja and late T. S. M’briwa. Another pledge according to some sources was made recently, alas nothing happened. Is that fair? Lies all the way and that has to stop. Should people be thinking of KONEXIT?

    At least, Late K. C. Gbamanja and late President Siaka Stevens negotiated the construction of the Wuhaman Abu road. Masterpiece road engineering ever in the history of Sierra Leone. Why not harness one of the most natural dams in the world for 24/7 electricity supply? God bless the Binkongoh falls and KONO DISTRICT.

  11. Deng Xiaoping the leader of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1992,and the architect of modern China,when he embarked on reforming the Chinese economy he said: “I don’t care whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches a mouse”. What a leader who saw the need to reform and lift more than four hundred million people in today’s China out of poverty. At the time, one of the issues he recognised that was holding back China’s development is lack of electricity. Today China is one of the largest consumers of renewable energy. Solar, wind and of course nuclear powered generators also play a part.

    Growing up in Sierra Leone, we heard about Bunbuna Hydroelectric power station in Tonkolili District – since man started to walk on two feet out of the savannah of East Africa, but yet we are still waiting to harvest its full potential. It has become like folklore, a story passed from one generation to the other. Now when Sierra Leoneans hear the story they breath a collective yawn. It was once even said if it is completed and running in full capacity, Sierra Leone will be supplying or selling electricity to some of our neighbours. It is half completed, but not to where it should be.

    We are blessed with sun shine and winds in the Atlantic coast line. With the right leadership we could harness that potential to take our country out of the dark ages. No power or electricity no development. I think since we have good relationship with China we should not be scared of what the western countries think of us and invite China to help us out. Just look at Ethiopia, Angola, Liberia ,Nigeria – just few African countries that are making full use of their relationship with the world’s second largest economy. Instead of thinking of development we are busy fighting each other. Shame on all our politicians.

  12. please lets have more information about this energy project. This imported elecitricity from Ivory Coast – how it is produced? By oil, water, nuclear..? Beside this big project there should be more energy projects decentralized from renewable energy, like wind or sun.

    • Very wonderful and great. Job well done. God bless Mama Salone. God bless HE for the good work done.

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