All Peoples Congress (APC) led-government Minister of Energy and Power, Hon. Ambassador Henry Macauley has on Monday 3rd April 2017, launched and commissioned a 24-hour solar powered electrical system at the Mambolo Community Health Centre (CHC), which is the first step in a major solar energy initiative which will bring power to 50 CHCs around the country by the end of June this year.
In his keynote address, Honorable Ambassador Henry Macauley expressed that his ministry is grateful to the warm welcome from the local authorities, stakeholders and beneficiaries of the pilot project. He added that his ministry has a mandate to provide access to electricity throughout the country and not only for Freetown and other big towns but in rural communities. Amb. Macauley continued that the project is part of the ministryís Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP). He furthered that the initiative supports the Presidentís Recovery Prioritiesí plan to bring electricity to remote communities by equipping them with solar photovoltaic (SPV) systems in the range of 6kWp per system.
|A commissioned 24-hour solar powered electrical system at the Mambolo Community Health Centre
Ambassador Henry Macauley further explained that the Ministry of Energy was working closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that stage one of the RREP Ė the electrification of the CHCs - would meet the Presidentís Recovery Priorities deadline this 2017.
He added: ďElectrification is essential for our nationís development. Today is just the start of a project that will have widespread health, economic and educational benefits. As the project rolls out, we will incorporate schools, other institutions and homes. Families will be healthier, women will have safer pregnancies, children will be able to do their homework and new businesses opportunities will be created.Ē
Given an overview of the project, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) Country Director Nick Gardner said, the Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP) is funded by the UK government through the Department for International Development (DfID) to increase energy accessibility for public service and to enhance economic growth in the rural villages. The project is being implemented by the through the support of the Ministry of Energy (MOE) and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS).
Mr. Gardner added that UNOPS is the implementing partner of the programme, contracted by DfID to deliver all the outputs and meet the outcome by October 2020. ďThe initiative is to be implemented over a 4-year period; starting from October 2016 to October 2020Ē he said.
Mr. Gardner continued that the initiative is composed of three work packages: Work package 1 (WP1); supports the governmentís ambitious Presidentís Recovery Priorities plan by providing electricity to a minimum of 50 Community Health Centers (CHCs) by equipping them with solar photovoltaic (SPV) system (in the range of 6KWp per system). He explained that WP1 is focused on small remote communities. ďThe systems are fully automatic with the lowest possible maintenance requirements. The system provides uninterrupted power supply to vaccine, refrigerator (sufficient battery capacity to cover times of low solar radiation) and allows forb increase demandĒ.
Work Package 1+ (WP1+) he said, the generation facilities installed at the CHCs will be extended to include small mini-grids in the 50 villages. The small mini-grids will be operated by private operators with commercial interests or local community associations both ensuring long term sustainability. An estimated number of 30,000 direct beneficiaries could benefit from direct electricity supply the end of 2017.
Work Package 2 will provide rural communities with electrification through installation of mini-grids with the overall objective of long-term sustainability. A minimum of 40 mini-grids project will be completed by October 2020. Work Package 3 must do with Technical Assistance (TA) and institutional development to both government authority and private sector, as part of the holistic approach to facilitate mini-grids development and long term investment and operations.
In his brief statement on behalf of DfID, Senior Infrastructure Adviser, Simon Kenny said DfID through the UK government has provided £34.5 million for the project as part of their £240 million commitment to the Presidentís Post Ebola Recovery Priorities plan. He further joined previous speakers in calling on community stakeholders to take ownership of the project and make sure they secure it for it sustainability. He ended that by end of June this year, the project will be commission in 50 different chiefdoms across the country.
PC Bai Shebora D Lion of Mambolo chiefdom expressed his sincere gratitude to the APC government and the UK government to what he called a historic event in his chiefdom. He vowed to provide security for the plant and for it sustainability.
Similarly, the commissioning ceremony of the same project was also done in Kukuna Town, Brimaia all in Kambia district, also in Koinadugu 2, Sengbe Chiefdom, and in Koinadugu district and will be done on Tuesday 11th April, 2017 in Levuma Community Health Centre, Kenema district.
The ceremony in the three sites attracts, Energy Ministry Staff, Health Ministry, Local Government Ministry, DfID, UNOPS, Presidentís Recovery Prioritiesí Team, Paramount Chiefs, Members of Parliament, traditional dancers and press men.
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