Delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony of a three day Sierra Leone first Renewable Energy Forum: focus on solar energy, Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana said: “the failure of succeeding governments over the years to properly address our energy needs has to a large extent accounted for the slow pace of our development”.
The forum which is hosted at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown, attracted local and international officials, and is organized by the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR).
Vice President Sumana stated that the energy sector has been the most immediate priority of their government.
He emphasized that there is need for a sustainable supply of energy to stimulate economic growth.
President Koroma he said declared energy as the first of his four key priorities in his Agenda for change under the Second Poverty Reduction Strategy covering 2008-2012.
To achieve the President’s vision for energy sufficiency, he maintained that the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources in 2009 worked assiduously to formulate a National Energy Policy Strategic Plan that has been approved by government for the development of the energy sector.
The Vice President further reiterated that, Sierra Leone is endowed with renewable energy potentials ranging from solar, wind, biomass and hydro, but “we have failed to undertake the appropriate actions that would improve our technology and indigenous capacity to properly harness these resources”.
Alhaji Sam Sumana noted that “we have several rivers that could be exploited for electricity, but to date we have succeeded in harnessing only the Dodo and Bumbuna phase one hydro potentials”. A total of 27 potential hydro sites nationwide have been identified, he said.
Solar energy, he said remains the highest potential source for our immediate attention to harness, adding that the use of solar technology is attracting a lot of attention and proposals have been presented to the MEWR for consideration.
Pilot solar lighting facilities, the Vice President stated have been established in some parts of Sierra Leone as demonstration of the great potentials of the country to achieve rural electrification.
He explained that government’s ambition is to extensively and appropriately exploit the abundant energy from the sun for our electricity needs.
In his statement, UNIDO Director General Kandeh Yumkella said energy revolution is taking place in the world.
He estimated that worldwide 2.5 billion people are still living below 2 dollars a day and that by 2030 the world energy will increase by 50%.
Minister of MEWR, Professor Ogunlade Davidson said Sierra Leone can now boast of a clear energy policy that maps out how they want to bring development in the country.
The forum was chaired by the Deputy Minister of MEWR, Martin Bash Kamara.
The forum ends on Friday. By Abibatu Kamara