On Tuesday, the government of Sierra Leone signed a Compact with the UK’s Department for International Development to secure a reliable power supply for all Sierra Leoneans by 2025.

This agreement, which was signed during the country’s first-ever decentralised renewable energy conference in the nation’s history, makes it the first country participating in the UK’s Energy Africa campaign.

Electrification goal: promoting access through renewables

According to the Energy Revolution, this ground breaking initiative will provide electricity to all six million of its people as part of its post-Ebola recovery plans; currently only 13% of the population has access to energy.

The Government of Sierra Leone will eliminate tax on qualified internationally certified renewable energy products to ensure modern power to 1 million people by 2020.

This will position Sierra Leone as a leader in promoting renewable energy – both for investors and its citizens.

In exclusive correspondence with ESI Africa, Energy Minister Henry Macauley, stated that: “The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Energy of the Government of Sierra Leone and the UK’s Department for International Development in October 2015 started a series of steps for us to get to the Compact.

“The Energy Africa Initiative seeks to create an accelerated deployment of home solar systems across Africa to rapidly increase energy access – even ahead of the SDG7 target of 2030 – by creating the right enabling environment, and engaging and stimulating the private sector to become partners and take fast action to catalyse a sustainable market.”

The minister added: “Sierra Leone has been the first to convert the MOU to a Compact by the sheer speed and intensity of our actions. This partnership will develop awareness and appetite to rapidly scale up investment in solar energy and will galvanise investors, development financing institutions, the Government of Sierra Leone and communities to collaborate and expand energy access through solar power solutions.”

Efforts to bolster energy access

The Energy Revolution event was hosted by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Energy and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The Government aims to deliver off-grid technology and solar home systems to its population, which currently has less than 1% connected to in rural areas.

The Energy Revolution said in a statement that Sierra Leone is one of ten African nations that have joined the UK’s Energy Africa campaign to expedite universal energy access to lift millions out of poverty and end dependency on aid.

The Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley, and the UK’s International Development Minister, Nick Hurd, signed the unprecedented Sierra Leone Energy Africa Compact agreement launching the Energy Revolution.

“It is unacceptable that today more than 600 million people across sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. In Sierra Leone alone, less than 10% of the population have electricity, and in rural areas where the majority of people live, it is practically non-existent,” Hurd said at the signing.

He added: “Working in partnership with Sierra Leone, the Energy Africa campaign can help to change that. I am very proud to sign the first ever compact agreement on this campaign with the Government of Sierra Leone to ignite the solar energy market – helping to power business, hospitals and homes, making sure the poorest people no matter where they live can access clean, reliable and affordable energy.”