Bringing Power to Liberia

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Posted on 12/19/2013

In many African nations, securing access to reliable sources of electrical power is a constant struggle for families living in poverty. Without electricity, even the simplest tasks can become very difficult, such as cooking and heating water. Although poverty levels remain high across much of sub-Saharan Africa, Liberia has one of the highest rates of poverty in the continent. Approximately 80 percent of Liberia's population of almost 4.2 million people live in poverty, and many lack access to electricity. However, that could soon change thanks to numerous infrastructural development projects that the Liberian government is undertaking to expand access to reliable power.

Powering Communities

AllAfrica recently reported that the Liberian government and several companies in the private sector are working together to bring reliable sources of electricity to families across the country. Officials at Liberia's Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy outlined plans for 20 electricity expansion projects, some of which have already begun. Others are scheduled to commence next year. One of the projects already underway is focusing on families living in the capital of Monrovia. Workers are connecting around 1,000 residents per month, including those living in the Chocolate City, OAU Village and King Gray communities.

Patrick Sendolo, Liberia's land, mines and energy minister, also outlined plans to expand electricity coverage to an additional nine communities outside the capital, a move that will bring power to the homes of thousands more families.

Large-Scale Projects

Expanding access to electricity in Liberia's communities is not Sendolo's only objective. At a press briefing that took place earlier this month, Sendolo detailed the Liberian government's plans to build three oil plants that will further boost power production for Monrovia.

"The World Bank, in collaboration with the government, is funding [a] 10 megawatts power plant and would be close to the three power plants I just discussed with you," Sendolo said. "This is a project that will go on in this year. The government itself will finance 18 mega watts in heavy fuel oil power plant. Implementation is also underway, and the LEC team has already gone to Finland to conduct a factory acceptance sketch."

Although these developments will be welcome news to people living in Monrovia and the capital's outlying communities, some families will receive electrical power before Christmas. According to the Daily Observer, power lines have been tested in several communities in and around the town of Ganta, using electricity sourced from the West African Power Pool. The project is being overseen by a Ghanaian company, and the initiative is set to expand across three counties in Liberia.

Light to Learn

A lack of electricity limits families in many ways, one of which is restricting children's ability to learn. Children who attend school, but whose families live in homes without electricity, often struggle to complete their homework due to a lack of light. This, in turn, can make it difficult for children to complete their education. For these reasons, ChildFund partnered with Nokero International last year to launch the "Light to Learn" campaign.

"Light is something we take for granted, but for kids living without it, illuminating the darkness does more than simply brighten a room – it gives a child the ability to reach his or her full potential," says ChildFund's Marcia Roeder.