Energy Access in Liberia
Access to public electricity in Liberia is with less than 10% among the lowest in the world. The reach of the national grids is very limited. Self-generated electricity from gasoline or diesel generators is used by 10% of urban and less than 2% of rural residents. More common are low-quality energy forms like candles and flashlights.
More than 95% of people in Liberia rely on firewood and charcoal to cook; in urban populations (85% of which are in Monrovia) 70% of people use charcoal for cooking versus 5% of those in rural areas.
Study for an overview of the Liberian Energy sector.
Government institutions for energy access
The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), especially the Department of Energy (DoE), is responsible to plan, formulate and strengthen energy policies, regulatory & institutional frameworks and strateigies, to create a conducive environment for delivery of electricity and rural electrification.
The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), a utility financed by various multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, plans to broaden energy transmission and distribution to function through corridors surrounding Monrovia, over to Buchanan, Kakata and through the counties of Nimba, Maryland and Grand Gedeh.
The Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), is an autonomous agency (reporting to the president) mandated to commercially develop and provide modern energy services to rural Liberia with emphasis on utilizing available local renewable energy resources. The RREA’s mandate includes integrating energy into rural development planning; promotion of renewable energy technologies; facilitating delivery of energy products and services; and facilitating the funding of rural energy projects including managing a Rural Energy Fund (REFUND) for sustainable energy services financing, coordinating domestic and international financial resources. REFUND is not yet in place.
Liberian Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC), with commissioners appointed by the president, has just been established to set-up regulations for mini-grids and give out licences to electricity providers to generate and distribute electricity within a prescribed service area.
The West African Power Pool (WAPP), founded in 2000, is a cooperation of national electricity companies in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The aim is to establish a reliable power grid for the region and a common market for electricity. In Liberia, WAPP is involved in the cross-border electricity transmission from Cote d’Ivoire.
National policies and commitments
Liberia has the Vision “Liberia RISING 2030” aiming for Liberia to become a Middle Income Country by the year 2030. This vision includes and proposes the targets of having 70% of Monrovia be connected to the electricity grid and 35% of the rural areas of Liberia connected to mini-grids/isolated, stand-alone units by 2030.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy from 2008 and the follow-up Agenda for Transformation (the first five years on the road towards the Vision “Liberia Rising 2030”) strive to consolidate peace and security, revitalize the economy, strengthen governance and the rule of law; and rehabilitate infrastructure and delivering basic services. The Agenda for Transformation (AfT) recognizes that investments in energy to unlock the urban and rural economies have the greatest return on investments and should be prioritized by expanding electricity access throughout the country.
The Government, through the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) adopted its energy strategy and relevant targets (access, capacity, generation, energy security) in the National Energy Policy for Liberia (NEPL) in May 2009. The principal objective of the National Energy Policy is to ensure universal access to modern energy services in an affordable, sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner in order to foster the economic, political, and social development of Liberia. This is to be achieved by good governance and ensuring financial transparency in all sector transactions, overcoming the significant obstacles to private sector investment in energy supply; and creating the requisite institutional and legal framework and an independent regulatory regime.
Liberia is committed to making progress with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for all (SE4ALL) Initiative, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The commitment of the government of Liberia to SE4ALL Action Agenda has been developed with the backdrop of the country’s overall development objectives of the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), the national Agenda for Transformation (AfT) objectives, the National Energy Policy of Liberia (NEPL) and achievement of the MDGs, SDGs and the SE4ALL objectives in Liberia.
As a member state of ECOWAS, Liberia subscribed and participated in the adoption of the ECOWAS policies on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RE&EE) in 2013 to be implemented at the national level.
Rural Energy Strategy and Master Plan For Liberia (RESMP)
In 2016, the Rural Energy Strategy and Master Plan For Liberia (RESMP) was presented and published under http://liberiaruralenergy.org. the RESMP aims to achieve the GoL’s rural electrification access rate of 35% by 2030, benefitting about 1.3 million people.
It includes targets for the period until 2030:
- Electrification rate for the population outside of Monrovia of 10% in 2020, 20% in 2025 and 35% in 2030
- All county capitals, health facilities and secondary schools electrified already before 2025
- More than 75% of all electricity generated from renewables by 2030 with 19% coming from other than large hydro: Mini-hydro, Solar and Biomass.
- Universal access to affordable solar lamps, efficient appliances and cook stoves.
- electrification of at least 2,000 settlements with grid infrastructure connecting at least 50% of those settlement’s population by 2030.
- the ten largest settlements in every county electrified with no county having less than 15% electrification rate by 2030.
- a credit/subsidy mechanism for connection of poor and woman-led households through Rural Energy Fund, promoting active participation of women in the jobs that will be created for electrifying the country.
The RESMP covers 5 Programs, which consists of 21 Initiatives and 92 projects.
The 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia establishes the legal basis for public and private electricity service providers to offer commercial electric service in Liberia, using grid expansion and offering off-grid service to rural and remote communities. This legal framework enables legal incorporation of entities which, with a license issued by the Liberian Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC), will be empowered to generate and distribute electricity within a prescribed service area. By law, this independent Regulator should have been in place from October 23, 2017. However, the establishment had been delayed, now it is established and just started to function.
A Mini-Grid Code for Liberia is in the process to be developed to define legal, technical, quality of service, safety and other conditions through which future service providers will be authorized to offer commercial energy services. This is to ensure that electric service offered by future service providers complies with international best practices.
Private Sector, International donors and Stakeholder Exchange
The market for renewable energy products and services in Liberia is still very small. Few small businesses establish themselves as solar installers or to sell solar products or improved cook stoves. Many of them can be found in the stakeholder directory. Some have started to organize within the Liberia Energy Access Practioner (LEAP) Network.
Several international donors and international organisations are involved in strengthening the renewable energy situation in Liberia, collaborating with public and/or private sector and/or local NGOs. Most of them can be found in the stakeholder directory.
The RREA holds the Secretariat of the Rural Energy Working Group (REWG) that aims to monitor and coordinate activities towards rural electrification. The Steering Committee of the REWG started monthly meetings in October 2017 and includes the Secretariat (RREA), relevant GOL entities (MLME, LEC, MCC/MCA, RREA, EPA, MPW, MIA, etc.) and Development Partners (USAID, EU, WB, AfDB, SE/SIDA, MCA/MCC, GIZ/EnDev, etc.).
Once a month, private and public sector and some international and national organisations meet in the Integrated Forum for Renewable Energy in Liberia. This meeting allows for updates, anouncements, questions and answers and content production for this www.renewables-Liberia.info web portal and its associated social media.
Renewable Energy Situation
This web portal provides in depth information about renewable energies in Liberia, including potential, programs, activities and news. The various energy forms and their use in Liberia on the solar, hydropower, biomass and windpower are in the technology section. An overview of current development programs from different donors as well as descriptions of specific activities can be found under activities.
Last Updated: November 2018