The agreement under the UK's Energy Africa campaign sets out policies that Sierra Leone hopes will result in 250,000 home PV units to be installed over the next 18 months. Source: Flickr - buddawiggi
Sierra Leone will be the first country participating in the UK’s Energy Africa campaign, launching a series of renewable energy initiatives to eradicate energy poverty in the country via solar solutions and off-grid technologies.
Sierra Leone is one of ten African nations to collaborate with the UK’s Energy Africa campaign and the first to sign a compact agreement. Under the terms of the compact, the president is aiming for 250,000 solar units installed in households across Sierra Leone over the next 18 months, a spokesperson for the Department for International Development (DFID) told PV Tech. This ambitious goal will be realised through collaboration between the UK government, the private sector and DFID development partners.
The campaign primarily sets out to harness participation from the private sector and tackle the regulatory and policy obstacles to the pay-as-you-go household solar market to ensure that solar firms can access the finance they need to expand their business remits, and allow investors to recognise the potential of the rapidly emerging solar market.
To this end, the Sierra Leonean government has already enshrined provisions in the 2016 Sierra Leone Finance Act to make this happen. Under the Act, there is now a permanent elimination of import duties for qualifying solar equipment to level the playing field for solar companies to ensure they can innovate and compete to bring energy to rural areas.
In addition, there is also a requirement that PV products must meet global International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) quality standards in order to qualify for tax-free status, which hopes to position Sierra Leone as a leader in promoting renewable energy for investors and residents alike.
The agreement harnesses support from both renewable energy industry bodies and the private sector. A Renewable Energy Business Association (REASL) has formed and committed to working with the government and other stakeholders to implement the policy actions as laid out in the energy compact. Policy actions include a mandate to establish power for all Sierra Leoneans by 2025, starting with "modern power" for 1 million people by 2020. Furthermore, there are commitments to raise consumer awareness and communicate the new goals to all market actors and sector stakeholders.
In addition, the DFID spokesperson said that the agreement sets out actions to help the government remove barriers faced by solar businesses, provide support to entrepreneurs to innovate in their technologies and energy services, and also designs to provide start-up finance for solar businesses, in an effort to boost the number of companies offering affordable energy solutions.
Overall the new agreement aims to supplement current efforts to stimulate the solar market, as currently less than 1% of people in rural areas of Sierra Leone have access to power, with less than 10% of the entire population having access to electricity.