Freetown, 22 March -- The Sierra Leone Government, civil society and private sector joined forces today in a Call to Action on energy access. At the event, attended by the Energy Minister and leading civil society and private sector representatives, each group made powerful commitments to undertake activities that will accelerate the growth of the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) market—vital for reaching 6 million people living in energy poverty.
Stakeholders also pledged to work closely together in energy access planning and implementation to achieve targets, and speed up progress.
The commitments of the Sierra Leone Government included taking action to:
Enhance the ‘green lane’ tax-exempt importation system for quality solar products
Take action to better maintain solar streetlights and encourage Government Ministries to save money by adopting solar
Create a comprehensive Energy Revolution market development plan, to be launched in May 2017. That will include:
Demand Creation: Public awareness campaigns to build trust and demand for solar technology
Supporting the Supply Chain: Working with companies, universities and the Barefoot women to build private sector technical expertise
Access to Finance: Working with local banks and development finance institutions to build innovative financing mechanisms
Policy Reform: Development of clear and transparent energy access plans, and a framework for mini-grid procurement and regulation, to attract investment.
The REASL commitments included taking action to:
Maintain a rigorous screening process to ensure members only sell products that meet international quality standards
Collaborate with technical institutes and universities for the inclusion of renewable energy training into curriculum, and to develop accredited training programmes
Work with the Ministry of Energy to design and deliver public awareness campaigns on quality off-grid solar, connecting with Paramount Chiefs and community leaders
Continue to work with the Sierra Leone Association of Micro-finance Instutitions on a household solar consumer financing pilot, and engage local Commercial Banks
At the event, REASL also released policy recommendations to support the DRE market.
Civil society, donor and sector support organization commitments were also made by Oxfam IBIS, Energizing Development, Sierra Leone Business for Opportunity and Power for All. These commitments included action to:
Expand training support for university lecturers and government workers on DRE to include solar thermal energy and water pumping
Run a scholarship program for solar PV studies that targets women
Build awareness of off-grid solar through road shows, trade fairs, school campaigns and media
Track and map sector performance
Attract investment and funding into the decentralized renewables sector
These commitments build on the steps already taken to increase energy access following the launch of the Sierra Leone Energy Revolution in May 2016. Since that time, the sale of off-grid solar solutions in Sierra Leone has doubled, and the country has also seen the launch of one of West Africa's largest solar mini-grid programs; 50 villages will see the installation of PV mini-grids by the end of 2017.
The Call to Action and joint commitments aim to speed up the implementation of further activities, and continue to build momentum towards the country’s energy access goals.
The Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, said: “Today the government, private sector, donors and civil society organizations unite to make solid commitments to accelerate energy access. Most importantly, these commitments will be backed by clear, achievable and specific plans and actions. There is much to be done and we must work together as a sector, alongside our local Chieftains and community groups, to end energy poverty in Sierra Leone. I call on everyone to join us so we can achieve energy for all by 2025.”
Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie, Team Leader, Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action (SOBA) said: “We have seen encouraging signs of progress on energy access in Sierra Leone and in support for the decentralized renewables sector, yet we can do better on all-important implementation. We need to do a better job of coordinating our combined efforts in realizing government priorities and objectives, the private sector, and communities. I hope this Call to Action spurs us all on to enhanced coordination and collaboration for combined impact.”
The Call to Action event was facilitated by the Power for All campaign, and saw presentations from various sector stakeholders, and an exhibition of decentralized renewable technologies.