By Joaquin M. Sendolo and William Q. Harmon
TRANSCO CLSG, a company implementing the installation of electricity facilities for the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP), is now ready to commission substations it has completed, up to 97 percent, to provide electricity in most parts of the country.
Entirely, the Mount Coffee facility being constructed has a 225-volt capacity with 133.66 megawatts allotted to Mount Coffee in addition to its already existing 88 megawatts. With this, TRANSCO CLSG General Manager, Mohammed M. Sherif says Monrovia yea the entire country will have an unimpeded power supply from the source to the destination where there will be no power fluctuation.
Heavy transformers have been installed with transmission lines run from the station to the various parts of Monrovia and elsewhere, and the control room well equipped.
Touring the Mount Coffee substation on January 23, 2021 with a team of journalists from various media institutions, Mr. Sherif assured that in the last week in February TRANSCO CLSG will begin commissioning the various substations across the country. This landmark achievement that is to alleviate Liberia’s power woes came through the support of the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the German Development Bank (KFW) and the European Investment Bank.
The main source or station for this 1,303-kilometer regional power project covering Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is in Man, La Côte d’Ivoire, and there are four substations in Liberia including the Yekepa substation in Nimba County, Botota in Bong County, Buchanan substation in Grand Bassa, and the Mount Coffee substation, the biggest of the stations.
Donors of the project divided the substations in their sponsorship; the African Development Bank’s sponsors the lines from Mahn in Côte d’Ivoire to Yekepa and then N’Zérékoré, Guinea; the World Bank from Yekepa to Buchanan; the European Investment Bank covers Mt. Coffee to the border with Sierra Leone; and the German Development Bank supporting the Yekepa, Botota, Buchanan, and Mount Coffee substations.
Yekepa substation will supply Nimba County and N’Zérékoré in Guinea, Botota supplying Bong County, Buchanan supplying Grand Bassa County, part of Margibi County, Rivercess County and the southeast, and Mount Coffee supplying Monrovia, extending to the bordering counties in the west.
This power development, Mr. Sherif said, will ease the burden Liberians are encountering in different quarters around the country.
“Electricity as a result of the project will be affordable and reliable for the ordinary people. This means that students will be able to read, hospitals and schools will be able to run on electricity, market women will be able to store their products in freezers, and direct foreign investment coming into the country will have hope and cost of production will be significantly reduced,” Mr. Sherif said.
He added that if customers are paying US$0.30 now for current, the price will drop below this amount and the majority of people in the country will afford to have electricity. Also, the General Manager said all villages along the lines 5 kilometers away will be electrified as long as they are in areas where the lines are passing.
On the issue of power fluctuation that power users encounter with the Liberia Electricity Corporation’s supplied lines, Sherif said it is sometimes a technical fault especially when 1KVA volt supposed to supply 50 persons and 200 persons are using it.
This mainly comes with power theft that has been at the center stage of electricity supply since power was restored in post-conflict Liberia.
Mr. Sherif, however, said when the facility is turned over to the LEC, the management will be able to best regulate it to avoid fluctuation that comes with power theft, but with the double circuit of 486 Mega Watts they are bringing, it will be difficult to encounter power fluctuation as it is with the 88 Mega Watts that LEC supplies currently.
The CLSG electricity networks interconnection project involves the construction of a 1,357-km-long double circuit high voltage (225 kV) line to connect the national networks of the four countries and comes with an estimated overall cost of US$500 million.
The need assessment of the project brought to the fore the socio-political crises that affected Liberia and Sierra Leone, leading to the destruction of the public electric power infrastructure of both countries—and owing to the low levels of investment in the sector in recent years, the power infrastructure has become obsolete with the attendant outcome of extremely poor quality of service.
The construction of this line is part of the backbone of the Mano River Union countries and the priority projects of WAPP’s Master Plan.
The project, according to Mr. Sheriff, will help establish a dynamic electric power market in the West African sub-region and secure power supply for participating countries that have a comparative advantage in importing power rather than producing it at high costs using their national systems.
Without the contribution that a government must make, donors cannot attempt to make any fund available to this project.
Against this backdrop, the Liberian Government under the George Weah Administration has done all it can to ensure that the project runs speedily as it did. The General Manager of TRANSCO CLSG in this regard commended the government so much for meeting up with its responsibility to allow the project to reach at the height it has reached and to give the assurance for commissioning by the end of February.
“We want to thank the government, especially the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah, who worked hard to make the Legislature to ratify the agreement leading to the project. It was through the effort of the government that the World Bank made available the remaining fund of about US$52 million that came to be an additional cost of the project after Ebola,” Mr. Sherif said.