ESMAP’s work on energy access, including activities implemented by the World Bank regional energy units and those funded by AFREA, have influenced financing; informed countries policies and strategies; increased client capacities; and generated innovative approaches in the developing world.
Liberia: AFREA Assisted the Liberia’s Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy
AFREA assisted the Liberia’s Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy to set up and build the capacities of an agency responsible for mobilizing investments and renewable energy services for rural areas.
Prior to AFREAsupport, Liberia had been rebuilding slowly from a long-term civil war that led to a complete destruction of the country’s energy infrastructure. Less than 1.5 percent of residents in Monrovia, the capital city, and no rural inhabitants have access to publicly provided electricity. The vast majority of the population relies on kerosene, candles, firewood, charcoal, and small gasoline and diesel generators to meet their energy needs such as lighting, air conditioning, refrigeration, and cooking.
In an effort to increase access to electricity from renewable energy sources, AFREA provided technical and legal services to the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy (MLME) to provide capacity building and help set up a dedicated energy agency whose mandate is to mobilize financing and renewable energy services for rural areas.
Scope and Recommendations
AFREA’s support resulted in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issuing an Executive Order establishing a Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) and its associated Rural Energy Fund as a legal entity in January 2010. Subsequently, the agency was staffed and trained on renewable energy technologies, annual plan development, and use of geographic information system (GIS) tools for energy planning. The RREA was further supported to develop its financial, procurement, and operational manuals. AFREA’s assistance also enabled the RREA to undertake two pilot projects (micro-hydro and solar market facilitation), to provide modern energy services to the recipient communities while enabling the agency to learn-by-doing, and to enhance its capacities for implementing future larger programs.
Results and Outcomes
Increased Client Capacity: Support from the Africa Renewable Energy Access program (AFREA)improved Liberia’s institutional capacity to provide modern renewable energy services for rural areas. Through this enhanced capacity, the RREA undertook the preparation of a rural energy master plan. To this end, AFREA gathered stakeholders in a workshop that identified rural energy priorities, which led to an outline of a rural electrification strategy and to a draft action plan. With the workshop outputs, the RREA applied for and received a 1.5 million Euros grant from the European Union, in August 2011. The grant aims at piloting off-grid solar lighting activities in Lofa County, and to the completion of the rural energy master plan. In addition, public-private infrastructure advisory facility (PPIAF) resources were leveraged to bridge the financing gap for the master plan. The plan will include a spatial analysis of grid extension and priority stand-alone renewable systems for remote villages, using GIS technologies.
Sustainability: At the end of 2011, the RREA has become fully operational, and was allocated a government budget. The capacity of the RREA will be further strengthened through a GEF grant approved by the World Bank’s Board in January 2012 entitled “Lighting Lives in Liberia.” The aim of the grant is to provide modern solar lighting products in exchange for kerosene lanterns.