FREETOWN, 4 April 2012 – During his official visit to Sierra Leone, UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella joined President Ernest Bai Koroma to lay the foundation stone of a 3 megawatt hydro plant in the North-West of the country.
Once operational, the hydro plant on the Bankasoka river at Port Loko town, developed by UNIDO together with the Government of China, will bring immediate benefits to the local community, including in such areas as irrigation, sanitation standards, drinking water, and will boost small and medium businesses. The fact that the hydro plant is located within the community means a direct involvement in the project by locals and lower costs. The technological approach used in Port Loko is likely to be replicated in other parts of Sierra Leone, with a potential contribution of several hundred megawatts in the immediate future.
"Our rivers will produce green, renewable and sustainable energy, giving us hope that economic success and national security will be ours for years to come,” said President Koroma. He added that it was time for “energy freedom” and that energy access was not “just about lighting a dark room. It’s about the freedom that energy gives us. Energy access forms an integral part of Sierra Leone’s overall transformation and poverty reduction strategy, and it is one of the top priorities on the government’s agenda for change.”
Director-General Yumkella said he was confident that "small and micro hydro plants in rural areas of Sierra Leone will help improve access to modern energy services, boost market activities and irrigation." He added that UNIDO was currently working on a feasibility study for a 10 megawatt hydro project linked to Njala University in the Moyamba District. The USD 32 million project would be funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Oluniyi Robin-Coker, said that the country spends millions of Leones each month to purchase oil, much of which is used to generate electricity. “Oil imports deplete the country’s very limited funds, every penny of which is sorely needed to rebuild the economy. Worldwide oil prices are higher than they have been in a decade. Once the hydro plants are constructed, the cost of generating hydro power is a small fraction of the cost of importing oil. Hydro can be a vital element of our economic recovery programme.”
Watch a video about the future hydro plant in Port Loko here
In the capital, Freetown, Director-General Yumkella and Russian Ambassador to Guinea and Sierra Leone, Aleksandr Bregadze, took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Fisheries Training Institute costing a total of nearly USD 1.5 million.
Thanking the Russian Government for the funding, Yumkella said: "This new Fishery Training Institute represents a welcome expansion in the country’s fisheries potential by ensuring the presence of skilled labour for the sector. The Institute will also have a positive flow-on effect for the sustainability of the country’s marine resources and will, moreover, help to attract private investment for the sector, thus generating additional national revenue."
The training at the new Institute will commence at the end of this year.
Watch a video of Director-General Yumkella speaking about the Institute here
As the co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s high-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, Yumkella took the opportunity to officially launch the energy initiative in Sierra Leone. The initiative has set three interlinked targets to be achieved by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Yumkella noted that increasing access to modern energy services was a prerequisite for creating social and economic opportunities that should improve the lives of the world's poorest. Progress is desperately needed, he said, as one person in five worldwide still lacks access to electricity. Nearly three billion people -- more than 40 per cent of the world -- rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.
The Director-General also took part in a handing-over ceremony of a new laboratory set up as part of UNIDO’s West Africa Quality Programme implemented together with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with funding from the European Commision. The Programme is helping harmonize standards activities and strengthen standards bodies in the region, assist in product testing and calibration/metrology, and promote quality and food safety management systems at enterprise level, among other targets.
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