Nothing could have brought more joy to the face of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday on her tour of major national development projects than the news that the Mt. Coffee Hydropower is at the completion stage of seventy percent.
The president was also informed that the Mount Coffee Hydropower is a nationally cherished asset and has the potential to quadruple the current estimated output upon completion in 2017 if some necessary interventions are made.
The President even wore broader smiles when the Director of the project, Bill Hakin, while making a presentation about the status of the project, maintained that December 16, 2016 still stands as the official date that the hydro will come online or actual electricity will be produced from that much anticipated project.
After completing a tour of the project yesterday, President Sirleaf said, “The level of progress here is absolutely pleasing because we were here last December and something was going on but you can really see now when we say big light tomorrow is almost at hand.”
The project, upon completion, will add considerable value to Liberia’s national welfare and will serve as Liberia’s backbone to supply electricity to citizens and contribute to the restoration of economic growth to pre-war levels.
“We are very pleased with the level of work that is ongoing here and we want to thank all those who come from the four contracting companies from all over the world that brought their engineers and technical staff to assist us in this regard,” she said.
The Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project is being implemented in four phases, and according to MD Hakin Phase 1 – Project Planning and Investigations; and Phase 2 – Detailed Design, Preparation of Tender Documents, Prequalification, Bidding, and Award of Contract; have been completed while Phase 3 – Construction, Commissioning and Taking Over are at a very advanced level. Phase 4 – Defects Liability Period, will be done subsequently.
He advised the President to address issues of environmental and social impacts and establish guidelines to put in place by LEC and the project contractors during the current construction and its future operations.
The implementation of the project is assigned to the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and is being implemented by the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) within the LEC, acting on behalf of its Board of Directors. LEC is currently administered by Manitoba Hydro International Ltd. (MHI) under a Management Contract (MC). This MC was originally scheduled to run for five years from July 1, 2010 until June 30, 2015, and is funded by the Government of Norway.
In January 2013 an Amendment to the Management Contract was signed between government and Norway, which allows for the financing of the PIU and the implementation of the Mt. Coffee Project. Liberia is one of seven main partner countries under the Norwegian Clean Energy Initiative.
MC comes to an end in 2017 and about 400 young Liberians are undergoing training in Zambia to take over the project when the PIU ends in 2017—a piece of news that was very pleasing to the President.
The MCHPP Rehabilitation Project began in May 2012 with the establishment and development of the PIU at LEC. Construction began at the site in January 2014 but there was a break as a result of the Ebola outbreak, he said.
Mr. Hakin said when completed, the plant will provide sustainable and cost-efficient supply of electrical energy, and will replace operations of emergency diesel engines and private aggregates that are presently used throughout the country.
The economic costs of the project include the economic capital costs, operation and maintenance inputs, and the economic price of land (e.g. foregone agricultural output). The economic benefits are far greater than the costs, and include the gross electricity economic benefits, avoided fuel costs, avoided greenhouse gas emissions, and many other direct and indirect economic and social benefits.