Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 June 2022:
A delegation from the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) arrived in Sierra Leone yesterday for a series of bilateral meetings designed to advance the development of the country’s first compact program – a large grant designed to facilitate economic growth.
According to a statement from the US embassy, the three-day talks will involve MCC’s Principal Deputy Vice President of Compact Operations – Kyeh Kim, meeting with the country’s private sector, government officials, representatives from all political parties, and other development partners, particularly those interested in the energy sector. (Photo below: President Bio bends the ear of his energy minister).
The government of Sierra Leone has requested MCC to design a potential compact – in coordination with the Sierra Leone Compact Development Unit (SLCDU) – to address Sierra Leone’s aged old electricity supply problem, which will require hundreds of millions of dollars investment to fix .
“Energy creates opportunities. Whether it is an opportunity to study after the sun sets, receive better care in a hospital, or the ability to establish or expand a business,” said Kim.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our consultative process with our Sierra Leonean partners this week to ensure that the final compact is broadly inclusive and brings the opportunity of energy to all Sierra Leoneans.”
Currently, only 26 percent of Sierra Leone’s households are connected to an electrical grid, mostly in the capital Freetown, and unpredictable service blackouts force most firms to rely on costly diesel generators to support their operations.
The lack of electricity also exacerbates Sierra Leone’s food insecurity crisis by limiting the presence of processing and storage technologies that use electricity, contributing to high rates of crop loss and waste. The compact design process is analyzing how to address these challenges.
“Country ownership is at the core of MCC’s model,” said new Sierra Leone Country Director for MCC, Steven Grudda. “We look forward to sitting in person with Sierra Leoneans at all levels, from all sides, throughout the week to advance project designs that are inclusive and beneficial to all Sierra Leoneans.”
MCC’s Board of Directors selected Sierra Leone as eligible for compact development in December 2020. Over the last 18 months, MCC and the SLCDU have worked together to conduct joint analysis of the country’s economy and identify potential opportunities for investments that will help address the lack of affordable and reliable electricity among households, businesses, and social institutions.
The proposed compact follows a $44.4 million threshold grant awarded to the Government of Sierra Leone, that has improved access to clean water supply and electricity in the capital Freetown.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government development agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants that pair investments in infrastructure with policy and institutional reforms to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights.