Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, Chairman of the Presidential Initiative on Climate Change, Renewable Energy, and Food Security, recently highlighted Sierra Leone’s commitment to reducing energy costs for citizens.

Speaking with Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Dr. Yumkella emphasized the government’s aim to identify and utilize cheaper energy sources to lower tariffs for the population. This dialogue took place during La Camera’s visit to the six megawatts solar park in Newton, Western Area Rural District, which IRENA funded.

Dr. Yumkella pointed out that the Bumbuna Hydro Dam in Tonkolili District and the Dodo Hydro Dam in Kenema District are currently the most cost-effective energy sources in Sierra Leone, with Bumbuna Hydro selling electricity at a rate of 3-5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

He also mentioned that the government is exploring the potential of biomass energy, which could be generated from waste materials. Specifically, the agricultural waste from the SOCFIN Agricultural Project in Pujehun and the mining waste in Tonkolili District could be transformed into biomass to generate electricity.

Sierra Leone’s renewable energy potential is significant, with the capacity to generate between 150-200 megawatts of electricity, Dr. Yumkella stated. He underscored the importance of clean energy as the optimal path forward for the country. Additionally, Dr. Yumkella noted that Sierra Leone’s abundant rivers and rainfall present opportunities for further hydroelectric projects. He also highlighted the necessity of knowledge transfer for the sustainability of solar panels and revealed that plans are in place to train local Sierra Leoneans in maintaining these systems.

Deputy Minister of Energy I, Dr. Eldred Taylor, provided further insights into the Newton solar park, which has been operational since 2021. Funded by IRENA, the park currently delivers 4.9 megawatts of electricity at peak load and spans 10 acres. The Ministry of Energy has also secured an additional 220 acres around the park, facilitating future expansion and the installation of more solar panels as needed.

IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera, expressed his satisfaction with the positive impact of his organization’s investment on the people of Sierra Leone. He reaffirmed IRENA’s commitment to supporting the development of additional renewable energy sources in the country, underscoring the potential for further collaboration to enhance Sierra Leone’s energy infrastructure.

This ongoing collaboration and commitment to renewable energy reflect Sierra Leone’s strategic direction towards sustainable development and energy independence, aiming to provide affordable and reliable energy for its citizens.