The energy sector in Sierra Leone is the pivot in the country’s development agenda and an important catalyst for achieving sound economic growth as well as widening the investment landscape in the country by attracting investors in the manufacturing and other sectors to propel the economy. Strengthening the energy sector in the country would make the economy more productive, create more jobs, and improve industrialization and also improve the quality of life of Sierra Leoneans.
The country is, however, blessed with plentiful rainfall and sufficient topographic relief that creates substantial potential for hydro-power generation throughout the country. The country also has abundant sunlight, which is seasonal complementary to hydro power sources, thereby creating strong opportunities in solar power generation.
The country’s energy demands are massively underserved with conservative estimates of currently unmet demand continually increasing. As the country develops and becomes increasingly industrialised, especially with the development of large-scale mining projects and integration of Sierra Leone into the West Africa Power Pool, demand for energy in Sierra Leone continues to increase at a dramatic rate.
The Government as part of its reforms for the sector plans to increase installed capacity and increase access to permanent and reliable electricity supply, invest in and improve the existing Transmission and Distribution (T&D) networks, strengthen institutional capacity to coordinate and implement programmes within Government and reduce the cost of producing and distributing electricity.
As part of the ongoing sector reforms, the Government has unbundled power generation from transmission and distribution ensuring that it continues to hold the exclusive license for power transmission, private sector partners are being invited to participate in generation and metering projects. Also, the National Power Authority (NPA) has been split into two distinct bodies and they are: The Energy Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC) and the Energy Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA).
The Government has also set-up the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) to regulate the sector. It has also facilitated the establishment of the Renewable Energy Association of Sierra Leone (REASL) which comprises of private sector players in the renewable energy sector.
To put the medium to long-term demand for energy in context, the Government plans to cater for three (3) main demand market. Viz: (i) urban centre demand (ii) emerging industrial demand, and (iii) regional export markets
As the demand for electricity in the capital city and other urban towns in the country is expected to increase due to an upward trajectory in urbanization trends, the Government is actively encouraging private sector participation in the generation of energy.
As the country continue to open to industrial and private sector investments, Government is encouraging companies (especially those in mining) to move away from vertical integration in their production processes, to make room for separate private investments in the generation and distribution sub-sectors to feed their increasing demands.
Sierra Leone’s inclusion in the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) network offers almost unlimited opportunities for the transmission and export of locally generated energy to other neighbouring countries, which are also experiencing huge power shortages. This is part of the Government’s program to export energy to the regional markets.
Sierra Leone’s energy sector offers a number of investment opportunities in terms of direct investments and public-private partnerships. The following are some unique opportunities:
Harnessing Untapped Hydro Potentials where there is demand locally: Several studies have been carried out and a summary of these studies have identified in excess of 30 locations suitable for hydro power development. The Government of Sierra Leone, within the context of its Public Private – Partnership (PPP) Framework, welcomes private sector interest in initially conducting technical feasibility studies on the potential generating capacity of the source.
In addition to the large hydro power potential sources in the country, Sierra Leone also has proven sources for hydro-power generation in various parts of the country. Many of the sources have generating potentials of between 2MW and 12MW. The District headquarter towns of Moyamba and Kono have mini hydro projects for which technical feasibility studies have been completed.
Other renewable energy potentials
There is already demand locally for other renewable energy sources:
Sierra Leone’s sunshine offers opportunities for solar power generation, for specific aspects of energy. The national energy generating potentials significant solar power potential with 2,187 hours of sunshine a year with generation potentials estimated at between 1,460‐1,800 GWH per annum. The development of street-lights using solar technology has emerged as a major investment opportunity but for public goods such as streets and highways, as well as private and community access roads. Opportunities exist to integrate outdoor advertising with energy generation, given the dispersal of the light poles.
Agricultural biomass waste is expected to be significantly high over the next 3 to 5 years as a result of ongoing and new large scale agriculture projects in oil palm and rice. The waste collected from these farms can serve as major inputs in the generation of biomass energy. The dramatic increase in municipal waste from major cities and other urban areas, particularly Freetown, also offer ready input markets for energy generating projects.
The production of bio-diesel and ethanol from palm oil and sugar cane are investments that the Government offers additional incentives over and above general scope of incentives in the country. The production of bio-diesel may be integrated with state-owned oil palm across the country which are available for private sector participation.
Investments in National and Regional Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Network Infrastructure
There are opportunities for investing and operating a Transmission and Distribution (T&D) network, as an unbundled component in energy generation and distribution.
West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) Project
With the blueprint for the Sierra Leone segment of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) already developed, there are opportunities for investing in this network as a means of distributing energy domestically, as well as for exports to regional markets.