Liberia: ‘TRANSCO Electricity Would Spur Investment’

Mount Coffee substation constructed and energized by TRANSCO CLSG

.... World Bank assets…. “CLSG has the power to be truly transformational for the people of Liberia."

The World Bank has pinned its hopes on the TRANSCO CLSG power grid to drive Liberia’s future economic development, saying a lot of potentials exists.

The CLSG grid, which is expected to ensure reliable and cheap access to electricity for the population, is a 225Kv CLSG power line that runs from Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia, and then Sierra Leone. It is expected to serve as an essential component in driving economic growth and spurring investment, with the manufacturing sector benefiting immensely.

“The CLSG line also constitutes the backbone of the national transmission network in Liberia and provides the means for a significant leapfrog in the electrification of the country,” said Carol Wambugu, World Bank Liberia Operations Officer, in a statement on behalf of Bank Country Manager Khwima Nthara.

“It makes it possible to bring grid-supplied electricity to remote populations and businesses that would otherwise need to wait 10 to 15 years for grid electricity. CLSG has the power to be truly transformational for the people of Liberia.”

Wambugu noted that the bank remains confident to  secure the sustainability aspect of the project, for the current and future generations of Liberia.

“The World Bank shares these objectives and remains ready to support the country’s efforts to make them a reality,” she added, while speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the CLSG substation at Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant.

The CLSG grid, which is expected to increase the LEC’s power generation capacity by 27 Megawatts — amounting to about 50% of what Mt. Coffee Hydro currently generates — comes at a time when Liberia has had relatively low levels of electricity access.

According to experts, the commissioning of the CLSG grid would help Liberia achieve its economic potential, while boosting investments, and manufacturing.

In 2020, just 27.5% of Liberia’s nearly four million population had access to electricity, with the majority of its rural population languishing without access to government-generated power, World Bank estimates. 

The Mount Coffee Hydro Power plant substation is the largest of the CLSG projects. The electricity line runs from Ivory Coast through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone with the capacity of carrying over 200 megawatts of high voltage, affordable and uninterrupted electricity powering heavy manufacturing and production.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador, Michael McCarthy has described the commissioning of the CLSG grid as a significant achievement for LEC and the Liberian government.

“This is a historic day, and it took hundreds of millions to reach this level. CLSG’s connection is the result of good leadership and innovation. It moves a step forward for reliable and affordable energy,” McCarthy  said.

However, McCarthy called on Liberians to pay their power bills, saying the financial viability of LEC cannot be achieved unless electricity bills are paid.

He also noted that LEC needs  financial support from the government to become more vibrant and fight against power theft. 

“Electricity is key to the development agenda of Liberia, and the actualization of this is a big step forward and in the right direction,” the US diplomat said. “When LEC transitioned to the Liberian leadership, there were those who expressed doubt about the continued progress on key initiatives, including CLSG negotiations and power theft, but today, we witnessed the fact that Liberian leadership can succeed.”

McCarthy said the connection of the CLSG line to the Liberian network was something that many analysts doubted was possible to be concluded by this dry season, “yet here we stand today because of full-grown Liberian leadership, innovation, and initiative.” 

The TRANSCO-CLSG project is financed by the World Bank, African Development Bank, German Bank, and other development partners.

It intends to provide additional electricity to meet the growing demand of Liberians and create an incentive for the development of hydroelectric power, particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone. It seeks to improve electricity access and the development of industries as well as improve the quality of life of both rural and urban communities.