Another US$1M grant signed for development of business promotion and investment
By David A. Yates and Simeon Wiakanty
The Government of Liberia and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed Financing Agreements for two Projects valued over US$33 million.
The two projects are the “Renewable Energy for Electrification of Liberia (REEL Project) and Support to Investment Promotion Agencies in Transition Countries”.
The signing ceremony took place on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. signed for the Government of Liberia, while the AfDB’s Liberia Country Manager, Dr. Orison M. Amu, signed for the Bank.
According to the Agreement, the value of the REEL Project is US$33.74 million and is expected to be implemented over a 4-year period.
The Agreement mentions the development of a hydropower plant on the Gbedin Falls on the St. John River in Nimba County for the REEL Project.
The dam is expected to have a capacity of 9.34 megawatts and will serve as a source of reliable, sustainable and affordable power in the region, thus enabling the power grid expansion to isolated localities and remote areas, and encourage the connection of an increased number of households, schools, health centers, businesses and industries to the national grid.
Increased access to electricity and fostering of renewable energy sources, improved annual electricity generation; increased access to reliable electricity, contribution to the reduction of electricity generation cost and fossil energy consumption, and job creation are some expected outcomes of the Project.
Additionally, the Agreement for the “Support to Investment Promotion Agencies in Transition Countries Project” supported by the AfDB under its “ADF-14 Transition Support Facility (TSF)” is valued at US$1 million, and is expected to be implemented over the course of three years.
The TSF Project will support the Government of Liberia’s efforts in improving the business environment and investment climate.
Specifically, the Bank’s financing under this Project is intended to support the National Investment Commission (NIC) investment promotion efforts and position the institution in achieving some of its critical goals and targets.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, lauded the AfDB for supporting the government’s development agenda.
He acknowledged that the Bank’s support to the administration of President Weah remains strong.
Minister Tweah also lauded the AfDB for its persistence in being a key player in electricity, roads, and governance amongst others in the country.
The Finance Minister, in an excited mood, said that electricity and road connectivity are significant factors for economic growth and are crucial to the success of the PAPD vision of President Weah.
He told the gathering that budget support discussed with the Bank will be used for key areas in the agriculture sector of the country.
He also praised the Bank for passing the ‘Country Paper’ for Liberia and disclosed that the Paper, which focuses on roads, energy and agriculture, will see the country moving in the right direction.
For his part, AfDB Country Manager, Dr. Orison M. Amu, underscored that the Projects are in support of Liberia’s development agenda.
Dr. Amu said Liberia’s lower electricity access rates and the cost of electricity rate at ($0.36 per kWh) is among the highest in the world presently, with less than 2% of households having access to electricity services nationwide, which poses a real threat to significant growth within the region.
According to him, the growth in electricity demand combined with insufficient investments in electricity generation and network development has led in the past to considerable constraints on the electricity network of the country, especially in densely populated areas; while rural energy access is virtually non-existent, a situation which, he said, greatly hampers social and economic development.
“With these challenges faced in the sub-region including Liberia, our bank has approved this loan and grant in order to primarily enhance and improve the power supply by providing access to rural electrification in Liberia, beginning with Nimba County and to also improve the business environment by creating a favorable business climate through investment portfolios options,” he said.
This project, Dr. Amu said, is aimed at developing the run-of-river Gbedin Falls through the construction of a mini dam in the St. John River.
The AfDB is financing several projects in Liberia and elsewhere, through different initiatives in economic, Social and Infrastructural developments such as the Liberia Energy Efficiency and Access Project (LEEP), the Regional Electrification of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (CLSG), Interconnection project and the CLSG Rural Electrification.
The AfDB is also partnering with the National Investment Commission to improve and create a favorable business climate for more investment expansions in Liberia.