Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone Mini-grid Project I & II
Rolling out off-grid energy access
In 2020, Sierra Leone had a rural electrification rate of just 4.8%, one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. The Government of Sierra Leone’s (GoSL) National Renewable Energy Action Plan recognises the potential of off-grid solutions to address the electricity needs of the country’s rural population where the economies of grid deployment are prohibitive. Following the impact of the Ebola virus on Sierra Leone’s people and economy, the President’s Recovery Priorities include access to energy.
To progress the GoSL’s priorities for rural electrification, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) supported the development of a Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP). The first of its kind in scale and scope in Sierra Leone and the wider region, RREP was implemented by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to deliver 5MW of off-grid power, electrifying 94 communities across four regions.
Through the RREP, PowerGen has developed off-grid power solutions in two of Sierra Leone’s four geographic regions under a 20-year public-private partnership with the GoSL. InfraCo Africa worked with PowerGen, to develop this ground-breaking project which also secured US$110,825 of grant funding from PIDG Technical Assistance.
The project company, Off-Grid Power (SL) Ltd (OGP) financed, developed, constructed, commissioned, and now owns and operates a portfolio of forty solar hybrid mini-grids serving over 13,000 customers across the southern and eastern half of Sierra Leone. The initiative is generating local employment and 85% of customers have reported that their lives have improved since accessing electricity from the solar mini-grid programme.
In 2022, InfraCo Africa committed an additional US$1.2m to deliver eight further mini-grids with PowerGen as part of its ongoing commitment to rural electrification in Sierra Leone. The eight new mini-grids will deliver clean energy to circa 1,660 homes and businesses, promoting economic development in rural areas.
The second phase of the project is participating in the Universal Energy Facility programme, the SE4All results based financing (RBF) programme, which will enable the project to benefit from grant funding on a per-connection basis. It is hoped that participation in the pilot will enable SE4All to scale an effective RBF model across sub-Saharan Africa, accelerating access to clean energy and global progress towards achieving SDG7 and net-zero.
Being developed by InfraCo Africa and PowerGen Renewable Energy. Sierra Leone Mini-grid II is part of the Universal Energy Facility, a multi-donor RBF programme managed by SE4All.