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Off-grid renewable energy developer, Winch Energy has signed a contract with the Ministry of Energy in Sierra Leone to provide electricity to 24 towns and villages through solar mini-grids as part of a public-private partnership project.

The Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP) is supported by UK aid grant funding and implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

The first 12 mini-grids have already been installed and company aims to make these operational by June 2019 with over 6,000 people set to benefit from a direct connection to the mini-grids in the first phase of the project.

An additional 12 larger mini-grids will be installed and operated by Winch Energy starting Q4 2019, providing direct electricity connections to an additional 24,000 people. Read more: Sida expands off-grid renewables model into sub-Saharan Africa

The 24 localities have a combined population of over 40,000 people who will benefit from proximity to the mini-grids, estimated to have a final combined installed capacity of over 1.2MW.

Strategic solar mini-grids development

The government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Energy has developed a strategy for active participation and involvement of the private sector in the operation and maintenance of solar mini-grid systems through Public-Private Partnership arrangements.

The project will also help provide robust infrastructure to the community health centres to assist with the country’s post-Ebola recovery.

Electricity to the health centres will be prioritised to ensure they have the services they need to provide adequate health services to the local populations, especially in the event of any future health emergencies. 

Winch Energy’s CEO, Nicholas Wrigley, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected by the government of Sierra Leone to build and operate off-grid localities in the country.

“We believe that electricity and related services is transformant to communities helping to kick start local businesses and enhance wealth and prosperity. We are committed to substantial investment in Sierra Leone and expect to add more customers and localities to our business in coming months, with the help of our local management team and employees.”