Cross border electricity link to transform access to energy in West Africa
Access to reliable and affordable energy in four West Africa countries will be transformed once a new 1303 km electricity interconnector, inaugurated on Sunday, June 4, 2017 on the sideline of the ECOWAS Heads of State Summit in Monrovia, is operational. The first cross-border energy supply between Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will support economic development, reduce the need to use expensive generators and allow existing and future hydropower projects to benefit the region.
President Ellen Johnson of Liberia led the historic ground breaking of the energy project. Joining her were her counterparts from Cote d’Ivoire (President Alassane Ouattara), Sierra Leone (President Ernest Bai Koroma) and Guinea (President Alpha Conde). Donor partners, contractors and other high-level officials from ECOWAS, CLSG countries and the international community were in attendance.
“We are pleased for this project. As many of you know, as ECOWAS proceeds to transform our economy, power has been identified as one of our main constraints. For Liberia, power is the one thing that has made a difference in the deterioration in the quality of life in all areas, as power supports education, health, industry, security and the comfort of life,” President Johnson Sirleaf said in her opening remarks.
The President maintains the CLSG project will bring to the beneficiary countries a big relief and that for those countries emerging, it will enable them to move at a faster pace in achieving their development goals. The Liberian leader described the CLSG project as major impetus for development in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. “As we break grounds, all four us as leaders of the CLSG countries, give to TRANSCO CLSG our fullest commitment and support to see that this project moves as quickly as possible in reaching the goals that have been set.”
“Once operational the CLSG Interconnector will ensure that communities across Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea can access affordable electricity. Hard work by African and international partners over recent years has ensure essential technical and financial preparations based on international best practice could be completed and the construction phase of the scheme to proceed. CLSG Transco looks forward to continuing this close cooperation over the years to come,” confirmed Mohammed M. Sherif, Director General of TRANSCO CLSG.
The regional importance of the CLSG project was highlighted at a ground-breaking ceremony in the Liberian capital Monrovia attended by the heads of state of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and local and international partners involved in the project.
“Access to energy is crucial to enable economic opportunities and ensure access to basic services. The European Investment Bank is pleased to have supported the transformational CLSG Interconnector project for more than ten years and congratulates Transco CLSG at the occasion of the historic ground-breaking ceremony. This scheme will improve the lives of millions of people across West Africa and provides an example of how regional cooperation can strengthen sustainable development that can be followed elsewhere in the world.” highlighted Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President.
In Sierra Leone and Liberia less than 5% of inhabitants have access to electricity and recent conflict in the region severely damaged existing infrastructure and hindered development of new networks. The new interconnector is also expected to significantly reduce use of diesel and heavy fuel oil generators.
The European Investment Bank is providing a EUR 75 million 25-year loan for the EUR 370 million CLSG Interconnector project that is also being financed by the African Development Bank, World Bank and KfW, as well as the four countries involved.
The EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund is also providing grant funding totalling EUR 27 million that will support technical assistance for engineering, feasibility studies and rural electrification. It will also reduce the loan repayment costs thereby allowing transmission tariffs to remain lower.
The European Investment Bank has supported regional energy investment through development and expansion of the West African Power Pool since 2005 and financed rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee hydropower facility in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Over the last decade the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 7.5 billion for energy investment across Africa.