By Elisha Hardingnel
The Minister of Finance, Dennis K. Vandi, was on the 14th June, 2022 briefed by the Principal Deputy Vice President for Compact Operations at the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC), Kyeh Kim, who was on a working visit to the country on the progress of the development of the MCC compact programme for Sierra Leone.
It would be recalled that the MCC’s Board of Directors selected Sierra Leone as eligible to develop a compact in December 2020.
In that regard, over the last 18 months, MCC and the Sierra Leone Compact Development Unit (SLCDU) have worked together to conduct a joint analysis of the country’s economy and to identify potential opportunities for investments that will help address the lack of affordable and reliable electricity among households, businesses, and social institutions.
Welcoming the delegation at his George Street office, the Minister of Finance explained the challenges the Government is facing to provide reliable and sustainable electricity in the country. He noted that the Government is spending huge resources on subsidizing electricity generation and distribution.
“We believe the compact programme will provide the opportunity to reduce the cost of power while introducing more renewable energy into the grid,” he added.
The Minister further stated that even though analysis so far shows that energy is the most binding constraint to economic growth and that the compact will seek to invest in reliable and affordable electricity, he also believes the investment will energize the agricultural sector.
He cited that providing sufficient energy will help to alleviate poverty and provide food sufficiency.
In her statement, the Principal Vice President of Compact Operation Kyeh Kim thanked the Minister and team for the audience, noting that meeting with the Minister of Finance at the stage of the compact development is critical especially when the energy sector is subsidized through the Ministry of Finance.
“Energy creates opportunities. Whether it is an opportunity to study after the sun sets, receive better care in a hospital or the ability to establish or expand a business,” said Kim.
She continued that the team is looking forward to continuing the consultative process with Sierra Leonean partners to ensure that the final compact is broadly inclusive and brings the opportunity of energy to all Sierra Leoneans.
She furthered that by the time the compact is ready to be implemented, they need everything to be in place like the National Electrification Plan that will help them feed the energy sector of the country.
The Financial Secretary, Sahr Lahai Jusu said, he has more interest in matters that border around electricity and furthered that the war in Ukraine has impacted the energy sector and increased expenditure on the energy sector.
He continued that, even though as a Government they have increased energy by 30-35% still they are in talks with World Bank in finding ways to handle the crisis that always hits the Government during the dry season.
The Financial Secretary assured the team that all issues related to legal matters and other related issues will be complied with by the Government.
Ndeye Koroma, Coordinator of SLCDU, stated that among other things the compact programme will create opportunities for critical reforms in the energy sector to improve governance and the operation of the utilities including support to processes already commenced by the Government such as private sector participation.