MCA-L Recounts Progresses

Ms. Kyeh Kim with Mr. Captan at yesterday's ceremony

Reduces electricity tariff

The United States government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), through the Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia (MCA-L), said in over one year since it started operating the corporation, it has put the Mount Coffee Hydro (Energy) project on course, with the hydro now online supplying reliable electricity to the national grid.

MCC chief executive office (CEO) Monie Captan made the disclosure Thursday when he provided an update to journalists during the formal welcome ceremony for Ms. Kyeh Kim, MCC deputy vice president, who is visiting Liberia for the first time since the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Liberia was established.

The MCA-Liberia is a legal, independent and autonomous agency of the government created by an Act of the Legislature on October 23, 2015. It administers the compact grant between the governments of Liberia (GoL) and the United States of America, acting through the MCC, signed on October 2, 2015. MCA-Liberia grows out of the commitment of the GoL and United States of America to the shared goals of promoting economic growth and the elimination of extreme poverty in Liberia.

Mr. Captan: “We remain grateful to the U.S. Government for assistance to Liberia to achieve economic growth after the war and Ebola epidemic.”

Mr. Captan said the Liberia Compact is unique in that it did not undergo a pre-implementation stage, but rather went directly into the implementation phase with the Mr. Coffee Project. “Although the compact entered into force on January 20, 2016, the MCA-L only became fully operational about a year later due mainly to startup activities such as staff recruitment, facilities acquisition, and the engagement of banking, fiscal and procurement services,” he said. Captan added that despite the one-year lull, “we have been able to make good progress in the implementation of the compact.”

As of the electricity tariff, Captan told his visitor that the tariff has been reduced from 49 cents per kilowatt hour (Kwh) to 39 cents per Kwh, representing a 25 percent decrease in tariff. Meanwhile, Captan has announced that a further decrease is expected in the next three months.

Recounting other progress thus far, Captan disclosed the passage of the Liberia Electricity Law and the nomination of the three commissioners to the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission; the implementation of the GoL’s LEC strategic management plan that will lead to new management services for LEC; procurement of a Contract Monitoring Consultant that will provide professional monitoring of the new management services; and to finalize the terms of reference (TOR) for the Technical Design of the LEC Training Center, which will also consider the feasibility of a relationship with a Technical and Vocational Education Training institution, preferably the Booker Washington Institute in Kakata, Margibi County.

In a related development, Mr. Captan said the primary challenge in the energy sector is the slow rate of connection of customers to the grid. “At present,” he said, “the peak load at Mt. Coffee is around 20.5 megawatt, about quarter of the full capacity of the Mt. Coffee hydro plant.” For that, Captan said LEC and some of its donor partners have now embarked on a connection campaign to boost the connection numbers and rate.

Additionally, he said LEC has now started to connect large customers, including the Royal Grand Hotel, ERA Supermarket, Orange GSM, and the Riverview Compound, promising to make further progress in the coming months.

Pursuant to signing of the compact and the setting up of MCA-Liberia, the GoL and MCC undertook a national consultative campaign involving the private sector and civil society to determine the development priorities for the compact to help facilitate poverty reduction through economic growth in the country. MCA-Liberia, therefore, helps to address two identified binding constraints to Liberia’s development: the lack of reliable, accessible and affordable electricity and improved roads. “We are also pleased to report that under the year in review, we witnessed the passage of the Road Project, which include the passage of the Axle Road Act; passage of the Road Fund Act and the on-going establishment of the Road Fund Governance structure, procedures and policies; and collection of traffic volume data through a national traffic survey by VOLPE/DOT. VOLPE is also about to commence a Road Asset Condition survey,” he added.

Captan said a donor coordination structure has been put in place with regular stakeholders’ meetings and collaboration. “In the coming months, we hope to make some adjustments in the roads project to allow for a feasible implementation schedule that allows beneficiaries to see early improvement in road conditions nationwide. I am pleased to report to you that the compact…as of June 30, 2017…have achieved 43 percent disbursements of total compact funds and 64 percent commitments of total compact funds. These amounts are expected to increase further by the end of the next quarter,” Captan told journalists.