Sierra Leone’s president, Julius Maada Bio has todah, Monday 3 October 2022 launched the National Online Digital Electrification Platform, and outlined the many energy sector reforms that have taken place under his administration.

President Bio made this launching at the 2022 Energy Sector Roundtable held at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown.

The Energy Sector Roundtable Conference is a gathering of essential players and stakeholders in the energy sector.

“Energy is the engine of prosperous economies. The more energy economies have, the more prosperous they become. The lack of energy is Africa’s most critical challenge with the world’s highest energy poverty. In Sierra Leone, access to electricity remains a challenge in terms of reliability and affordability,” Bio noted.

He added that the country’s sustainable economic growth and prosperity depends on solving the crisis of energy in the country.

President Bio said a more significant commitment and some bold and urgent steps were needed to address Sierra Leone’s energy concerns while alluding to the unfamiliar and harsher socio-economic circumstances brought to bear on emerging economies as a result of the COVID-19 shocks and the lingering Russia-Ukraine crisis.

“But as a government, we are determined to keep our national development priorities on track. Despite rising global energy prices, we must continue our efforts to increase energy access to communities and productive sectors of our economy in the short,medium and long term,” he stated, adding that it was a priority of his administration to ensure that existing and future energy sources were reliable, affordable, efficient and sustainable for homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.

He called on essential players in the sector to take into consideration the issues of supply, availability, reliability, affordability, financing and investing in the energy sector, while also imploring the participants to proffer solutions that would help the country transition to a more financially sustainable model.

President Bio informed the gathering of how his government had spent over $200 million dollars on subsidies for electricity in the last three years consistent with his government’s overall policy objective in the sector.

While officially launching the National Online Digital Electrification Platform, President Bio spoke on the benefits of the project, the regional power integration efforts, the issue of energy transition through clean energy sources,the development of the Millennium Challenge Compact, MCC, the expansion in the country’s renewable energy or mini grid space, and rural tariffs

Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, said the presence of the President at the roundtable conference spoke volumes of his commitment to the sector and to the overall national development aspirations.

He said his Ministry was working in line with President Bio’s vision for the energy sector which falls under four critical pillars,adding that this year’s roundtable conference was dedicated to achieving specific objectives.

Mr. Sesay spoke on the many strides made in the energy sector,the crucial role of donor and private partners, the desire to make EDSA commercially and technically viable, and the action points of last year’s roundtable conference that had been worked on with a view to strategically positioning the sector for quality performance and delivery.

Minister of Finance, Denis Vandi, said the energy sector continues to play a critical role in promoting economic growth, noting that the Ministry of Finance had since 2018 provided a cash subsidy of NLE 1.2 billion to the energy sector as well as non-cash subsidies in the form of duties and imports GST waivers.He also spoke about his Ministry’s sole funding of the districts electrification project .

World Bank Country Director, Pierre Laporte, praised stakeholders for organizing the sector and pledged his institution’s commitment to continuously supporting Sierra Leone’s enegy drive.

MCC Country Director, Steve Grudda, said a coordinated effort was needed in the energy sector and expressed his delight at seeing and witnessing such a roundtable conference.