News that Liberia’s much awaited power plant project (Mount Coffee Hydro) destroyed during the civil war has finally been revamped to meet some of the country’s growing demands for energy use is not only a promise fulfilled by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, but also one of the proudest moments for Liberia since the return of peace almost two decades ago.
For so long, not entirely the fault of this Administration, Liberians have had to endure hardship associated with non-availability of electricity or where available, it has been largely inadequate or epileptically provided from whatever source it came.
In post-war Liberia, petty traders have relied heavily on imported generators to sell cold water and other locally produced beverages with low returns on their sales as they had to spend some of the meager amounts accrued from the sales to purchase gasoline or pay for the locally supplied electricity from the neighborhood. At the end of the day, they always complained of low profit margins.
It is also fair to point out that while there has not been any independent assessment to establish the health hazard associated with the use of some of those generators, such as fire incidents and the loss of property, there exists the probability that several people have suffered respiratory problems due to excessive exposure to carbon monoxide. That, not to talk of loud noise we hear from communities, made it impossible for any sound sleep.
In today’s world, scientists and common people do agree that electricity is one of the key factors necessary for the rapid development of other sectors of the economy. Therefore, its absence or partial provision brings lots of discomfort not only to the city dwellers who have become accustomed to the use of electricity-based equipment such as television, cell phones, refrigerators, among others, but also hampers economic activities and slow down or deters investors.
Cognizant of this reality, President Sirleaf’s administration has always emphasized the importance of resuscitating the energy sector as a gateway to economic revitalization.
With the completion of this project, it has now become apparent that the saying frequently echoed by her administration “Small Light Today and Big Light Tomorrow,” which has been interpreted by many as one of those politically crafted slogans designed to appease the masses, has now hit home for real.
The truth is that President Sirleaf believes in the methodical approach to tackling development challenges, something she has demonstrated over time and evidently, this has proven efficient as opposed to disjointed approach.
The steady progress the country has witnessed in the last decade sprang from well thought out development initiatives rooted in the vision propounded by her administration since its inception. For instance, the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (iPRS), as well as the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), and most recently the Agenda for Transformation (AFT), all considered the energy sector as a critical component of the country’s development agenda.
As a proponent of the Sustainable Development Goals, Vision 2030, Liberia is poised to maximize the use of electricity to accelerate its developmental goals. This is based on the scientific evidence that the use of electricity as a clean source of energy is more efficient and sustainable than other sources of energy that breed environmental problems.
For instance, a study has revealed that “current projections estimating world population growth read in conjunction with corresponding projections of increased world energy consumption, point to electricity as the cleaner fuel of the future, especially because of its efficiency and low levels of pollution.”
Clearly, the resuscitation of the Mount Coffee Dam is one of the many projects that this administration has undertaken with commitment and dedication. Indeed, the launching of the Mount Coffee hydro plant is a promise fulfilled. It is an affirmation, and it does reinforce to the people to never lose hope in the determination of a government that has proven ability to turn things around despite numerous obstacles, if only we care to reflect on the past.
Emerging from the status of a Failed State to an internationally accepted player among the comity of nations speaks volume about the resolve of Madam Sirleaf’s leadership to the meet critical developmental needs of Liberia.
In the next few months or so, we shall turn our searchlight on some of the achievements of this administration. At least not for the purpose of showering praises, but to inform that when discussions are held about the legacy of President Sirleaf, the record stands tall; and that there are more positive things to account than detractors will want us believe. It all boils down to simple appreciation of government’s efforts and the need to show a minimum respect for authority especially when the government has demonstrated over time, its readiness to meet its obligations to citizens despite the daunting challenges.
About the author: Abu M. Kamara is Minister Counselor and the Deputy Chief of Mission
Embassy of Liberia in Riyadh- Saudi Arabia