Sierra Leone’s electricity problem needs fixing fast, using sustainable approaches such as the use of renewables, solar, hydro, wind and conversation of decades of landfill rubbish into energy, to meet the growing demand for electricity in the country.
With less than 20% of homes in the country having reliable access to electricity, and industrial growth hampered by energy shortage, the Bio led government has certainly got its work cut out, after decades of maladministration and corruption by the previous government.
Last week, a Turkish ship contracted to help provide electricity for the hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the capital Freetown, was shutdown due to technical fault, leaving over a million people without electricity.
Freetown needs about 500 Megawatts of electricity if it is to function as a city that can meet the needs of households, businesses and public institutions.
The Turkish Karadeniz Powership Doğan Bey which is berthed off the sea coast of Freetown is contracted to provide 126 Megawatts of electricity, which is why any shutdown is bound to cause massive public reaction as it did last week.
Yesterday, a public statement was published by the company responsible for providing the powership electricity, announcing that the problem has been fixed and a second ship arrived last weekend in Freetown to serve as a backup, as well as provide additional electricity to meet the needs of millions of people living in the East of the capital.
This is what the statement says:
“Karadeniz Powership Doğan Bey is back in full operation, after a short disruption caused by electrical fluctuations. Any issues related to the system were fully restored within hours and the Powership was giving electricity to the country within the same day.
“Regarding the details of the issue, on March 1st, 2019, due to the sharp fluctuations in the frequency of the Sierra Leone national grid, the electricity supplied from the Powership was temporarily disrupted.
“Following the event, the staff and technicians on board of the Powership took swift action in coordination with Sierra Leone Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and restored the power. The damaged transformer was replaced with a brand new one. The grid started receiving electricity once again from the Powership, within 4 hours of the event.
“Karpowership has a proven track record of supplying sustainable, reliable, and affordable electricity with its entire Powership fleet.
“Given the successful partnership between EDSA and Karpowership since 2018, a contract expansion addendum had been added to the previously signed Utility Grid Infrastructure & Electricity Supply Agreement on December 20th, 2018.
“As per this addendum, a second, 36MW Powership, is to be located at Cline Town Bay, and will meet the increased demand of Sierra Leone’s growing economy.
“The Powership has arrived in Cline Town as of March 4th, 2019 and will be generating electricity by end of March, 2019; following the completion of the site preparation works.
“In addition to the 126MW Karadeniz Powership Doğan Bey in Freetown, this second, 36MW Powership will supply reliable and economic electricity at one of the lowest prices available to the people of Sierra Leone.
“The operation of the 36MW Powership named “Karadeniz Powership Göktay Bey” will also significantly contribute to Sierra Leone’s electricity supply, health, nutrition, education, while creating employment opportunities. Karpowership will continue to proudly serve the good people of Sierra Leone.
“Karpowership is the only owner, operator and builder of the first Powership™ (floating power plant) fleet in the world and plays an active role in medium to long-term investments; with more than 2500 employees globally.
“Currently, Karpowership owns and operates 20 Powerships with an installed capacity exceeding 3,100 MW and another 5,000 MW are under construction or in the pipeline. Karpowership is operational in Indonesia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Gambia.”
But as Sierra Leone looks ahead to a brighter future, based on private sector investment that will drive sustained economic growth, the government must prioritise electricity production in a sustainable way.
The use of powership – though vital in meeting the needs of millions of people, is like putting sticky plaster on an old wound without addressing the reason the wound refuses to heal.
This is not sustainable and is certainly not a good way to develop and grow an economy. More effort and resources must be committed to the development of the Bumbuna Hydro Electricity Dam Phase Two and other dams that are dotted across the country, such as the expansion of the Freetown Orogu Dam. The immense potential of wind power must also be harnessed.
Lessons must be learnt from the failings of the Koroma led APC government.