The Promoting Renewable Energy Services for Social Development (PRESSD) project which aims at providing renewable and affordable energy to rural communities in Sierra Leone was launched on Thursday in Segbwema, Kailahun district.
The project targets to provide affordable and sustainable renewable energy services to 45,000 households in rural communities which will in turn benefit over 85,000 Sierra Leoneans in Kambia, Port Loko, Bombali in the northern region and Kenema, Kailahun and Kono in eastern region of Sierra Leone.
The head of PRESSD project, Karl Segschneider, said the PRESSD project will contribute to supporting poverty alleviation through increased access to renewable, affordable and sustainable energy services for people within the project implementation areas.
He said solar an mini-grid energy will be provided for schools, hospitals, community health centers, agricultural processing centers, rural financial institutions and in some other areas where a mini grid system will be installed. He said people’s homes will also be connected to the energy facility.
He said the areas chosen for the project implementation was informed by studies that was conducted in various parts of the country which examines the viability and sustainability of the project, adding that there was clear indication that the project will improve the living conditions of people and also increase their incomes.
“We have committed as partners in the project to provide 89 percent of the funds to ensure the smooth implementation of the project for the rural communities. The community only need to provide the 11 percent of the funds to ensure the sustainability of the project even after it would been handed over to the communities,” Karl said.
He went further to explain that the11 percent funds that the community would be contributing to the project will not be handled by the project team, but the community people themselves will be responsible to ensure that a bank account is established in any bank of the community’s choice.
He said the funds that will be generated from the community will be used by the local community themselves for maintenance of the renewable energy facility.
He said the European Union provided funds for the project with four implementing partners: Welthungerhilfe (WHH), Energy for Opportunity (ENFO), IBIS (Danish Development Cooperation) and Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI).
The Director of Energy, Dr. Patrick Tarawallie, said the energy ministry had developed a renewable energy policy to attract more investors and other development partners to the sector. He said, even though Sierra Leone contributes minimally to climate change, it was important for the advancement of renewable energy in country to help provide electricity to the people.
Hon. Abu Jagua, the parliamentary representative for the area said providing electricity to Sebgwema and other parts of the district has been his dream and pledged his commitment to ensure community participation and ownership.
Deputy Minister of Energy 1, Mojor Sengu Koroma highlighted the fact that the provision of electricity for the people is a right and not an opportunity. He said the government has been fully involved with the project and has provided the necessary support to the project team to ensure that electricity is provide for people in rural communities in line with pillar four of the agenda for prosperity.
He said the PRESSD project has demonstrated that they have the capacity to provide electricity to the River No. 2 community which now enjoy electricity supply from the facility the project provided for them.
“President Ernest Koroma is very much concerned about the provision of electricity for every Sierra Leonean in every nook and cranny of the country,” he remarked.
He said the government has call for bills for the rural electrification project which clearly shows that President Koroma’s government puts premium on the provision of electricity for the rural population in Sierra Leone, which the project squarely compliments.
The launching was climaxed with a raffle draw which enabled many lucky winners to take home valuable items including electric fans, mobile phones, radios, and coupon for a free meter installation.