Lighting the way with clean energy in Sierra Leone

Electricity generated through solar power and transmitted through local mini-grids is now available in 54 rural communities across Sierra Leone, an important milestone for the use of clean energy in the country.
This week, President Julius Maada Bio turned the lights on in Petifu village, celebrating this moment for both the community and the other 53 towns and villages that can now benefit from renewable, reliable and affordable energy.
This rapid development will continue over the next 2 years and is expected to bring solar mini-grids to a further 44 larger rural towns and villages across Sierra Leone.
This new clean energy is being provided by the Rural Renewable Energy Programme (RREP), funded by the UK Department for International Development with up to £34million UK Aid.
The programme is expected to provide power to hundreds of thousands of people.
Increasing access to electricity in order to promote rural economic development is a key part of the Government of Sierra Leone’s National Development agenda.
The RREP programme is being delivered through a close partnership between the Ministry of Energy, UNOPS, private sector operators and UK’s Department for International Development.
The programme has already helped to provide electricity for 54 health centres, playing an important role in improving healthcare including allowing mothers to deliver their babies safely at night.
The connections established to the local mini-grids also mean that houses will have lights at night, helping children to do their homework.
The RREP will also boost economic development in rural areas by making energy available and more affordable for local businesses – for example, for crop processing and refrigerating produce – helping to create jobs, increase incomes and integrate rural communities into the economy.
The programme recognises that electricity is necessary but not sufficient for economic development and therefore it will provide other assistance to help communities make productive use of the electricity – for example, by offering targeted finance and support to some businesses.
This programme is proving that green energy which is a viable alternative in Sierra Leone and is helping to put Sierra Leone on a pathway to meet its future energy needs through renewable resources alongside or even instead of fossil fuels.
This will play an important role in helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation in Sierra Leone.
The programme also provides an excellent example of how cooperation between government, the international community and the private sector can come together to deliver strong development results.
Renewable energy will be a prominent theme in the upcoming UK Africa Investment Summit which will take place in London next month and in which Sierra Leone will play an active role.

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