Liberia, World Bank Sign U.S.$300 Million Agreement for St. Paul River Hydro Power Plant Project (2023)

By Charles G. Lamadine

Monrovia — The World Bank Group has committed an initial amount of US$300 million to the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) for the construction of the St. Paul River Hydro Electric Power Project in Lower Bong County.

The World Bank says it remains committed to working with the Government of Liberia through the LEC management led by its acting CEO Monie Captan, key stakeholders, and development partners in ensuring that the vision for the construction of the St. Paul River Hydro Electric Power Plant otherwise known as "SP2," is achieved.

The announcement was made on Wednesday by the Bank's Acting Country Manager, Liberia Office, Mr. Mack Capehart Mulbah at a one-day Roundtable Stakeholders Development Forum held at the Bank's Head Office in Oldest Congo Town.

"We are looking forward to establishing a joint government and partners relationship in financing and forming a mobilization team that will explore options leading to financial closure, including organizing key events and donor coordination meetings and an investment forum," said Mr. Mulbah.

"We are in this with you, and we want to assure you that our technical support is available at all times, and our financial commitment is endless towards this initiative," he stated.

Mr. Mulbah said that the one-day meeting was aimed at enhancing stakeholders' participation in the discussion of the St. Paul River Hydro Electric Plant, as he thanked the Liberian government for the strong commitment shown in increasing access to affordable and cheaper electricity for all Liberians.

According to him, this has been demonstrated several times through concrete measures taken by the Liberian Government; some of which that include the initiatives already put in place to expand access to the LEC current generation capacity; not to mention about the CLSG efficiency in LEC financial performances and the request of accelerating the construction of the "SP2" Hydro Electric Power Plant.

"On behalf of the World Bank family, let me congratulate President George M. Weah for the constitution of the steering committee under Executive Order #120," he noted.

Mr. Mulbah said: "We know that the proposed cost of this project is very huge, and it requires significant investment in the areas of time, efforts, financial and technical resources, but with the Liberian Government's strong initiatives and long-term vision contained in the LEC financial performances is essential to the overall goal of this project".

Speaking on behalf of President George Manneh Weah, Presidential Legal Advisor, Archibald Bernard, recommitted the government's support to the LEC in fighting power theft.

Mr. Bernard also stated that from the start of Weah's administration, the government has worked tirelessly to shift its strategic vision to deliver the supply of affordable green energy to both the domestic and commercial sectors.

He noted that it is at the core of the President's Pro Poor Agenda that stable, affordable and plentiful green energy can meet the social, economic and green development targets and to export excess green energy to other African countries.

He, however, used the occasion to convey the President's best sentiments to Liberia's development partners for efforts aimed at constructing the SP2 Hydro Electric Power Plant on the St. Paul River in Lower Bong County.

"In Liberia, we are not just blessed with vast rivers, but we are also blessed with key strategic development partners, many of whom are those on this call today. The partners who have shared our vision of becoming a regional renewable energy hub capable of serving our own domestic demand and also capable of being good neighbors and exporting excess green hydro and solar generation to our African friends."

According to the Presidential Legal Advisor, 'the vision has now started to become a reality with the World Bank Respite Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant (MCHPP) and solar extension, with the government looking beyond to the bigger picture in widening Liberia's Renewable Energy Strategy.

He averred that the Liberian Renewable Energy Strategy (LRES) is evidenced by the construction of St. Paul River Second Hydro Power Plant known as "SP2".

The "SP2 " is a 150 MegaWatts Hydro Electric Power Plant project that is 80 kilometers North of the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant situated on the upstream of the Vevia River along St. Paul River in Handii, Fumah District, Lower Bong County.

Also speaking at the Stakeholders Roundtable Development Forum, UK Ambassador to Liberia, Amb. Neil Bradley said he was happy to be part of said development initiative when it comes to improvement in Liberia's Energy Sector.

Ambassador Bradley, commended President George Manneh Weah and LEC CEO, Hon. Monie R. Captan for the level of efforts being exerted to further strengthen and improve the country's electricity sector.

"As an excellent presentation today done by LEC CEO, Monie Captan; and the President's vision statement read by Mr. Archibald Bernard; and so, I think there is a sense of momentum and direction about advancing discussion on the realization of this project," Amb. Captan said.

"I am very happy this morning to announce that the British International Investment Bank is at its core in whatever direction of assistance to the realization of this project."

The British Ambassador, at the same time raised concern on the issues of transparency in project implementation delivery given the fact that the project is a huge investment.

"SP2" promises to be the second biggest hydroelectric power plant with 150 megawatts capacity, officials say.

Mines and Energy Minister Gesler Murray, also speaking, hailed the World Bank for committing the initial US$300 for the project, something he termed as a great beginning that is aimed at ensuring the realization of "SP2" Hydro Electric Project in Lower Bong County.

On the 30th of June 2023, President Weah signed Executive Order #120, directing the establishment of the High-Level Executive Committee to a meeting conveying for this project and designating it as a critical national priority.

The committee is chaired by Minister Murray. Murray said the project demonstrates the government's 100% commitment to the "SP2" project.

He thanked the West African Power Poll (WAPP) for being very instrumental in partnering with the Liberian Government through the LEC Management and development partners for the Power Extension and Solar Energy Project.

For his part, the LEC's Acting Chief Executive Officer, Monie R. Captan, thanked the development partners for their commitment to the SP2 Hydro Electric Plant Project.

Mr. Captan also thanked President Weah for his countless support to Liberia's energy sector, evidenced by government's unwavering support to the LEC Anti Power Theft Task Force (APT-TF), which has made significant progress in curbing power theft and increasing LEC customer-base, as well as reducing financial losses.

Mr. Captan, sees the initial provision of the US$300 million by the World Bank as a dream come true as his administration is resolved to providing affordable, accessible, stable and reliable electricity to the people of Liberia.

In his 20-minutes presentation at the Stakeholders Development Forum, the LEC CEO amongst other things said: "basically the sinaroa of the dry season with low water levels due to the lack of Reservoir, we have to run our turbines during the dry season for a limited time and we need to do water recovery as we empower the dam. "And when we do that, we have to use supplementary power which means more carbon footprint, and so, we input power from Cote d'Ivoire."


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