Power Africa in Liberia

ENERGY SECTOR OVERVIEW

The Government of Liberia is working closely with development partners to undertake ambitious measures to rebuild its electricity infrastructure. Liberia’s civil war, which ended in 2003, destroyed much of the country’s power sector. At approximately 12%, Liberia has one of the lowest electricity access rates in the world. In the capital city of Monrovia, less than 20% of the population has access to electricity. By 2030, the Government of Liberia aims to meet an anticipated peak demand of 300 MW and serve 1 million customers, connecting 70% of the population in Monrovia and providing access to 35% of the rest of Liberia.

GENERATION CAPACITY

  • Installed Capacity: 126 MW
    • Diesel and HFO: 38 MW
    • Hydro: 88 MW
  • Power Africa new MW to Date Reached Financial Close: N/A
  • PA 2020 Target: 200 MW
  • Power Africa 2030 Target: 300 MW

CONNECTIONS

  • Current access rate: 12%
    • Rural: 3% Urban: 16%
  • Average Tariff: $0.35/kWh
  • Households without Power: 832,000
  • Power Africa New Connections:
    • On-grid: 9,030
    • Off-grid: 90,400

INVESTMENT AND ENABLING ENVIRONMENT

Biggest Issues

  1. Weak and under developed enabling environment
  2. Weak public utility that is not commercially viable, with high tariff and high commercial losses
  3. Delayed expansion of transmission and distribution network to evacuate existing generation capacity
  4. Nascent off-grid sector  

Power Africa Interventions

  1. Power Africa’s engagement in Liberia is rooted in an agreement between the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of Liberia, signed in November 2015. The $257 million power and roads sector compact includes funding for the rehabilitation of the Mt. Coffee Hydroelectric Plant, development of a training center for electricity technicians, support for the creation of an independent energy sector regulator, and support for the development of a nationwide road maintenance framework.
  2. USAID has also provided technical assistance to Liberia’s Rural and Renewable Energy Agency and funded the construction of three pilot renewable energy projects and a 77 km grid extension project.

POWER AFRICA’S ENGAGEMENT IN LIBERIA

MW GENERATION

All four units in the Mt. Coffee hydro plant have been commissioned, providing an additional 88 MW of available generation capacity. The rehabilitation was co-financed by MCC, the Government of Norway, kfW, and the European Investment Bank. In addition to the rehabilitation, the Government of Liberia, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the World Bank funded a 38 MW heavy fuel oil plant to complement the hydro plant. Prior to the completion of Mt. Coffee, a 23 MW diesel plant was the sole source of Liberia’s available generation capacity, forcing larger facilities such as hotels, restaurants, and office buildings to self-generate electricity.

ENABLING ENVIRONMENT

In June 2015, the Liberian Legislature passed into law the act that created the Rural Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), a longstanding Power Africa policy objective. In addition, the Legislature approved the Liberia Electricity Law in September 2015. These two pieces of legislation provide a foundation for unlocking opportunities to modernize the electricity sector and, for the first time, provide a framework for private sector participation. In August 2016, the RREA launched its rural energy strategy and masterplan for Liberia which can be accessed on www.liberiaruralenergy.org. In July 2017, three commissioners were nominated to establish the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission, pending confirmation from the legislature.

SUCCESS STORY

On November 8, 2017, a new management services contract was executed between the Liberia Electricity Corporation and ESB International Engineering and Facilities Management to operate and manage the utility towards commercial viability. MCC is funding the contract through the Liberia Compact for three years, and USAID facilitated the procurement of the management services contract.

USAID/Liberia has fully completed 3 renewable energy pilot projects, with implementation support from Power Africa, connecting 564 households in rural Liberia to power utilizing solar, rubber wood chips biomass and crude palm oil biofuel technologies. In addition, these projects have demonstrated the viability of community ownership models for renewable energy, and concluded that solar is the most feasible renewable energy technology to scale up in rural Liberia.

FACT SHEET

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Last updated: November 08, 2018

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