The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) yesterday awarded a grant of US$ 23.25 million to the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and the Rural Renewable Agency of Liberia to transform Liberia’s renewable energy sector.
The funds will be used to develop a 9.8 MW hydropower plant at Gbedin Falls on the Mano River in Nimba County and provide a low-cost, sustainable and reliable source of electricity to citizens in that part of the country.
According to an AfDB statement, the plant will be funded by the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP), a program under the CIF with the objective to empower transformation in developing countries by demonstrating the economic, social and environmental viability of renewable energy.
“Liberia has one of the lowest electricity access rates in the world with less than 2 percent of households having access to electricity services nationwide and therefore expanding access to electricity is not only vital but should be one of the country’s topmost priorities,” said Leandro Azevedo, AfDB’s CIF coordinator and senior climate change officer. “We will work intensively with our energy experts to ensure that the project’s implementation begins as quickly as possible,” the statement said.
AfDB expects the project to mark a reduction in the use of highly polluting stand-alone diesel generators that are critical in powering not only Liberian businesses and households but also in improving the conditions of the health and education infrastructure.
“As Liberia continues recovering from the 2014 Ebola crisis, these financial resources will help the government of Liberia to prioritize their own scarce resources into those sectors of the economy and society that have suffered greatly with the depression caused by this terrible disease,” said Anthony Nyong, director, Climate Finance and Climate Change Department at the AfDB. “AfDB is strongly committed to support Liberia in transforming its energy sector following this approval from the CIF,” added the statement.
The electricity to be generated by the Gbedin Falls HPP will be transmitted via the existing Liberia-Cote d’Ivoire cross-border transmission line. Based on the annual average households’ electricity consumption that currently stands at 510 kWh for an average family of 5 persons, it is estimated that the project would supply electricity to about 500,000 people.
Established in 2008 as one of the largest fast-tracked climate financing instruments in the world, the US $8.3-billion CIF provides developing countries with grants, concessional loans, risk mitigation instruments, and equity that leverage significant financing from the private sector, MDBs and other sources. Five MDBs–the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and World Bank Group (WBG) – implement CIF-funded projects and programs.