RETHINKING SIERRA LEONE’S ENERGY STRATEGY: A Call for Sustainable Solutions Over Quick Fixes

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by Mahmud Tim Kargbo

The recent commitment by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to finance the development of an 83.5 MW combined cycle thermal power plant in Sierra Leone has sparked significant debate and concern among stakeholders in the energy sector. While lauded for its initial use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) before transitioning to liquefied natural gas (LNG), a cleaner and more energy-efficient fuel source, there are growing calls for a reassessment of the proposed thermal power plant. This article argues against the construction of the thermal power plant and advocates for a shift towards more reliable and cost-effective renewable energy sources like hydro, solar, or wind energy to address Sierra Leone’s energy challenges at an industrial level, citing the failed oil refinery project as a cautionary tale of unsustainable national ventures that was later dismantled and sold.

The decision to construct a thermal power plant fueled by LPG and later transitioning to LNG may seem like a viable solution to address Sierra Leone’s energy crisis in the short term. However, history has shown that quick fixes and unsustainable energy ventures can have detrimental long-term consequences for the country. The dismantled oil refinery, once heralded as a symbol of oil independence and economic growth, stands as a stark reminder of the challenges associated with sustaining costly and inefficient projects.

Sierra Leone, a country blessed with abundant natural resources and renewable energy potential, has the opportunity to embrace more sustainable and environmentally-friendly energy solutions. By opting for hydro, solar, or wind energy projects, the nation can tap into its natural resources to drive industrial growth, enhance energy security, and reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. These renewable energy sources offer reliable and cost-effective alternatives that can meet the country’s energy demands while mitigating the environmental impact of traditional fossil fuel-based power generation.

Hydroelectric power, in particular, holds great promise for Sierra Leone, given its numerous rivers and water resources that can be harnessed to generate clean and renewable energy. Solar and wind energy projects also offer decentralised and scalable solutions that can provide electricity to remote and underserved communities, while creating job opportunities and driving economic development across the country.

By shifting towards sustainable energy solutions like hydro, solar, or wind power, Sierra Leone can not only address its energy challenges at an industrial level but also set a precedent for environmentally-conscious and economically-viable energy development. Investing in renewable energy infrastructure will not only reduce dependency on costly fossil fuels but also enhance energy resilience, promote job creation, and contribute to the country’s long-term sustainable development goals.

The proposal to construct a thermal power plant in Sierra Leone, fueled by LPG and LNG, raises concerns about the sustainability and long-term viability of the project. Given the country’s past experiences with unsustainable ventures, such as the dismantled oil refinery, it is imperative that Sierra Leone prioritises renewable energy sources like hydro, solar, or wind power to address its energy challenges in a more reliable and cost-effective manner. By embracing sustainable energy solutions, Sierra Leone can ensure a brighter and cleaner future for its citizens and the environment, while fostering economic growth and energy security for generations to come. Let us advocate for a shift towards renewable energy and push for a more sustainable and prosperous energy future for Sierra Leone.

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