Sierra Leone’s electricity nightmare continues despite  more than $35 million paid to Karpower in last 7 months

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph:  4 May 2024:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room was buzzing with anticipation on  Tuesday,  30th April, 2024, at  the government’s weekly press conference, where the spotlight was on the energy and finance sectors, with Chief Minister David Sengeh, Dr. Eldred Tunde Taylor, Deputy Minister of Energy, and Mrs. Kadiatu Allie, Deputy Finance Minister, taking centre stage.

As the cameras rolled and reporters poised their pens, Mrs. Allie dropped a bombshell, revealing shocking details about the government’s dealings with Karpower, the provider of Sierra Leone’s energy.

She disclosed that since September, the government had shelled out a staggering $36 million to Karpower, with no significant improvement in the country’s energy infrastructure. This revelation sent shockwaves, raising serious questions about the transparency and national benefit of the contract signed between the government and Karpower.

Despite the hefty payments, Sierra Leoneans continue to grapple with inconsistent electricity supply, plunging them into darkness at the most inconvenient times. With less than 100 MW of operational capacity and a mere 130,000 connected customers, Sierra Leone’s power sector is  teetering on the brink of collapse.

Adding insult to injury, Chief Minister David Sengeh attempted to shift the blame onto citizens, accusing them of stealing electricity without paying their bills. However, this scapegoating tactic failed to appease the disgruntled populace, who demanded accountability and transparency from both the energy and finance sectors.

The situation reached a boiling point in April when the country experienced a widespread blackout, leaving homes, businesses, and hospitals in the dark. Despite the government’s hefty payments to Karpower, the promised solution to the energy crisis remained elusive, further exacerbating public frustration and anger.

Amidst the chaos, a glimmer of hope emerged with the announcement from the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The DFC board approved an increase in debt financing to support the development of thermal plants, promising to inject much-needed investment into Sierra Leone’s energy sector.

Initially approved in 2021 for $217 million, the financing has now been augmented to $292 million, raising hopes for a brighter future.

However, amidst the optimism surrounding the US support, questions loom large over the government’s failure to address the energy crisis for over six years.

Despite pouring millions of dollars into Karpower, the country remains shackled by unreliable electricity supply and exorbitant rising costs.

The root of the problem lay in mismanagement, incompetence, and a glaring lack of transparency within the energy and finance sectors.

Instead of investing in sustainable solutions that could empower the nation to generate its own electricity, the government opted for short-term fixes that line the pockets of foreign contractors and public officials, leaving millions of citizens in the dark.

The time for excuses and finger-pointing has passed. Sierra Leoneans demand accountability, transparency, and concrete action from their government. It’s time to break free from the cycle of dependency and chart a new course towards energy independence and prosperity.

As the press conference drew to a close, the harsh reality of Sierra Leone’s energy crisis reverberated across the halls of power. The spotlight is now firmly fixed on the government, tasked with the monumental challenge of steering the nation towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

The road ahead remains fraught with challenges, but with determination, transparency, and unwavering resolve, Sierra Leoneans will continue to hope for a tomorrow illuminated by the glow of good governance, economic progress and prosperity.


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