Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2019:
Yesterday, President Dr Julius Maada Bio commissioned the countrywide Renewable Rural Energy Project (RREP) in Petifu, Lokomasama Chiefdom in Port Loko District, Sierra Leone.
The Renewable Rural Energy Project (RREP) which is designed to target 94 communities across the country, is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).
The project pays mini-grid operators to provide commercially viable solar electricity in rural communities.
Petifu is a rural town in northern Sierra Leone. It lies about 20 miles to Lungi, home to the international airport that serves the West African nation. (Photo: Head of DfID in Sierra Leone, Kobi Bentley speaking).
During the symbolic switching on of the power in Petifu, Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay said that the event is a significant milestone, marking the start of the provision of electricity across the country, in fulfilment of the President’s pledge to increase access to electricity through renewable energy such as solar.
Resident Coordinator for the United Nations, Sunil Saigal (Photo below), said that he is honoured to witness the demonstration of what is a result of effective collaboration between the government and its international partners.
He said the government has shown commitment to deliver development results to improve the welfare of Sierra Leoneans.
Head of DfID in Sierra Leone, Kobi Bentley, said that the event is significant because it celebrated the fact that electricity generated through solar power and transmitted through local mini-grids is now available in 54 rural communities across the country.
She said that the project will run for the next two years, and is expecting mini-grids to be provided in additional 40 larger rural towns and villages across the country.
In his address, President Bio said that the project is aligned with his government’s commitment to produce cleaner, cheaper and more inclusive energy in rural communities across the country, so as to achieve the country’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 – “producing modern energy for all”.
Bio said that the project will also support his government’s human capital development drive by playing an important role in the storage of vaccines and other medications in health centres; increase the study time at schools and homes; and also provide additional resources through technology.
“This project will help support small scale enterprises by stimulating economic activities; and will also help agricultural activities through the preservation of foodstuffs. We will replicate and promote this RREP model and extend energy access to more Sierra Leoneans,” he assured.