President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said the essence of providing electricity in a given area is to help promote businesses that lead to improved living conditions for residents as their economy booms. According to the President, Yandohun Town, Lofa County, where a 60 Kilowatt Micro-Hydro Power Plant was dedicated, should be of no exception.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony of the Micro-Hydro Power Plant in Yandohun, Kolahun district on Wednesday, February 19, the Liberian President cautioned residents, especially women, to make maximum use of the electricity by engaging in businesses that would increase their incomes and improve their lives.
The President mentioned ice making, cold water processing, and rice mills as examples of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with great investment potential. She challenged the people to form a cooperative in achieving this, which would lead to more SMEs.
“Do not just use this electricity to dance under light every night; it’s your opportunity to make use of your blessing. The only way you can help government fight poverty is by getting involved. This is why the hydro has been built here,” the President told a joyous crowd.
“We want women to be involved in businesses because it would help empower them and improve the lives their families. You can buy an ice box and get yourself engaged in selling ice, or even buy a cooler and start to sell cold water to passersby on this road,” she added.
The newly dedicated 60 Kw Micro-hydro power project is an initiative of the Government of Liberia through the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), and funded by the World Bank.
The project costs around US$540,000.00; covering civil works, electromechanical equipment, a powerhouse, transmission, distribution, customers’ internal wiring and connection for the three beneficiary communities.
The hydro current serves three rural communities, including Yandohun, Dangalahun I and Dangalahun II, all in Kolahun district. It presently provides reliable and affordable electricity to over 169 customers; comprising households, businesses and social institutions. Customers will pay only LD$200.00 a month regardless of how much power they consume. The power is supposed to run 24/7.
The Micro-hydro power system is being managed, operated and maintained by a community management team trained under the newly established Yandohun Electricity Development Cooperative, Incorporated.
The Residents of the Yandohun expressed thanks to President Sirleaf, the World Bank and the many technicians who made the construction of the project a success. They lauded government for providing them with access to affordable electricity and giving new opportunities to improve their lives.
A resident of the town, Mr. Willy Kuagbah said: “This is a very important day in the history of Yandohun. I just want to express thanks to our President for this project. This electricity will help us greatly, especially our school children.”
Another resident, Hannah Kamara noted, “We no longer sleep in darkness. When evening hours arrive you see everyone anxious to come and see the new face of our town under light. Our children will be happy to study their lessons upon returning from the farm because of electricity. We are very grateful to our President.”
She continued, “The President said that we should get into business. I have a plan to build a modern video club if I can get a loan to start it. I want for government to start looking at ways to give us loans in Yandohun like the Central Bank is doing in other areas.
The Executive Director of RREA, Augustus Goanue said the project is very unique and serves as a model for similar communities in Liberia. “Because of various socio-economic benefits associated with this project, it will greatly contribute to the RREA’’s purpose of facilitating and accelerating the economic transformation of rural Liberia,” he noted.
He said in 2008, President Sirleaf approved then Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Eugene Shannon’s request to establish a prototype Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) following the drafting of the first ever National Energy Policy of Liberia.
Meanwhile on February 8, 2009, Fanny Missfeldt-Ringius of the World Bank, Kristin Stroup of Energy and Security Group and the RREA boss visited Yandohun to assess the damaged 30-kW Micro-Hydro Power plant originally constructed by a Peace Corps Volunteer called Gary Duncan in 1979 with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Upon their return, a project called “Catalyzing New Renewable Energy in rural Liberia” was submitted to the World Bank for funding, which was subsequently approved. The objective of the two phase project was to help government implement a significant portion of the NEP by establishing the RREA as a functioning agency able to mobilize new renewable energy services and investment for rural areas to meet demand in a technical, reliable and affordable manner.