The head of the European Union, (EU) Klaus Rudischhauser, now visiting Liberia, has given assurances that the EU remains committed to assisting the country in its development drive— especially in the energy sector.
Mr. Rudischhauser, who serves as Deputy Director General in the European Commission Directorate for Development and Cooperation, (EuropeAid) gave the pledge last weekend when he met with Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Patrick Sendolo, at the Ministry on Capitol Hill.
According to Mr. Rudischhauser, European Union Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, is attaching high priority to energy as a key driver for development and has agreed with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that energy should be a priority for EU cooperation with Liberia.
“The Republic of Liberia has been chosen as one of the first countries to receive support from the EU’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative,” Mr. Rudischhauser disclosed.
According to the EU Deputy Director, his organization’s intervention in the energy sector of Liberia is intended to increase access to affordable and sustainable energy services in order to foster economic and social development in Liberia.
“The EU strongly believes that an affordable supply of energy to households, institutions, and enterprises increases productivity in the economy. It also generates new private enterprises, jobs, as well as improves education and services,” Mr. Rudischhauser added.
During his visit, Mr. Rudischhauser held talks with authorities of the Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy, and relevant donors and stakeholders in Liberia’s energy sector.
Although results from the discussion were not disclosed, Mr. Rudischhauser reiterated that the European Union is one of the biggest donors for Liberia’s energy sector, with a present contribution of more than 65 million Euros (90 million USD).
He said discussions are still ongoing with the Liberian authorities for additional support to be allocated over the next seven years.
Responding to concerns about why the EU remains committed to the development of Liberia, especially in the Forest and Energy sectors, Mr. Rudischhauser stressed that Liberia, having experienced war for many years, is struggling to build a responsible government and governance system. He explained that to set up such a government requires preparing the people of the country for responsible governance.
He said the EU is committed in the long term to helping Liberia achieve its development agenda. Mr. Rudischhauser noted that the EU does not only engage the country through government, but works with non-governmental organizations to achieve its goals.
He pointed out the energy sector as a main area of concentration for investors and business people in Liberia.
At the moment, the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) supplies electricity from power generators that consume thousands of gallons of fuel a month; a situation that is believed to leave LEC in deficit almost every time.
Because it is cost-intensive to operate, the cost to subscribe is high and many people in Monrovia cannot afford it.
In order to address the power needs of Liberia, especially Monrovia where the seat of the Liberian Government is situated, government has allotted US$45 million with an additional $65 million for a concession loan deal with the European Central Bank.
In addition, donor nations have committed US$107 million; with Germany and Norway having already pledged their support to commit US$75 million and US$32 million respectively.
With these commitments and assurances, electricity is expected to be fully restored to Monrovia and its environs by 2015.
However, before the closed-door meeting between the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and the EU six-person delegation, Minister Sendolo thanked the delegation for committing to Liberia’s energy sector.
He disclosed that sometime this week, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will lead an array of government officials to Mount Coffee, where a ground-breaking ceremony will be take place for the reconstruction of the hydro.