In January 2010, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issued Executive Order No. 23 establishing Liberia’s Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), and a Rural Energy Fund (REFUND), to bring modern energy services to Liberia’s rural areas. With the help of the REFUND, which is now being physically set up, the RREA will administer electrification to rural areas through renewable and least-cost energy technologies and resources, including micro-hydro power plants, small biomass power plants, solar photovoltaic applications, and other mini-grid and stand-alone systems.
Beginning May 2010, a number of pilot activities have been launched, including the bidding for a micro-hydro power plant development for Lofa County and solar applications for some of the larger rural towns elsewhere in Liberia. “The electricity from the new micro-hydropower plant, once built, will help jump-start the farming business in our town. We have our entire village dancing in expectation,” says Town Chief Morris Amara of Yandohun, the community that is to receive the pilot micro-hydro power plant in Lofa County.
The RREA will work with the communities to discuss their needs and opportunities for such projects. The RREA will also work closely with Liberia’s private sector and community developers to investigate how these entities can be encouraged to bring electricity to the rural areas. In addition to training and outreach, the RREA is expected to provide financial support such as grants, subsidies and loan guarantees to rural communities and the private sector. “Modern rural energy services have in the past been the stepchild in the support that the government has brought to the Liberian people. But I believe that we should give children in the rural areas the same opportunities to be able to study at night with safe lighting as the children in Monrovia have.
We saw the setting up of the RREA as a dedicated and independent agency and an important step forward to breaking from the past,” says Dr. Eugene Shannon, Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy. One of the early missions of the RREA is the development of a Rural Energy Master Plan, which will provide the strategic roadmap for the electrification of Liberia’s off-grid areas. The RREA is supported by financing provided by the World Bank and USAID.
RREA - Rural and Renewable Energy Agency-Liberia