By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Energicity Corporation, operating under the name Power Leone, has launched its first electrification project in Petifu Junction, Port Loko District, Northern Sierra Leone, to provide 24-hour electricity to 100,000 people and businesses by the end of 2020.
According to the press statement from the company, Power Leone will launch 31 more minigrids over the next 2 years thus stating that by year end of 2020, Power Leone will have completed deployment of all 31 projects and will be providing 1.5MW of solar powered electricity to over 100,000 people in the Moyamba, Port Loko and Kambia districts in which the company is already providing free electricity to Community Health Centers across 23 communities.
‘’Power Leone’s service in Sierra Leone is under a contract signed with the Ministry of Energy in January 2019. This contract is the culmination of the ambitious Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP) supported by grant funding from the UK Department for International Development and implemented by United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Upon completion of the project, RREP with a total of 90 minigrids across the Sierra Leone will be one of the largest off-grid distributed minigrid projects in Africa,’’the release stated.
The release further stated that Petifu Junction is the first of 14 surrounding villages under the Lokomasama Chiefdom to receive electricity since its formation in 1908 adding that Petifu Junction is a village of 2000 people who are primarily farmers of rice and palm oil, in addition to residential users, small holder farmers, 2 schools and a community health Center, and home to the Love Bridges Hospital a charitable hospital performing surgeries ranging from appendectomies to complex laparotomy.
For most people living in the Northern part of Sierra Leone, Love Bridges Hospital, serves as the last resort for all medical complications.
Alfred Young, General Manager of Love Bridges pointed out numerous challenges the hospital is facing due to lack of electricity. “Each time we have to maintenance our gensets, we have to close down operation and send some patients to other nearby health Centers,” he said, adding that having constant electricity supply will help them to expand their services.
According to Chief Obai Fath, section chief for Petifu Junction, the lack of electricity has derailed economic growth in the village, increased suffering and forcing most of the young people to abandon the community to seek sustainable futures elsewhere. Women and children are the most affected by the lack of electricity. “Our women travel to distant places to buy ice-block for them to carry out their local businesses, he said. “Despite the improvements in technology, our community continue to be in a deplorable state with high rates of health complications, crimes and profound hardships, he continued. Having electricity will improve all aspects of our lives”.
‘’There are over 600 million people in Sub Saharan Africa living in communities like Petifu Junction. Minigrids are the lowest cost solution to provide electricity for at least 100 million of them. With electricity provided by minigrids, people can have electricity to power health care, including ultrasounds and vaccine refrigerators, power agriculture – including irrigation, agro-processing and cold storage, and to power economic development,’’ the release added.
Nicole Poindexter CEO of Energicity Corp and Power Leone reiterated the company’s commitment in providing electricity. “We at Power Leone are pleased to be able to bring affordable, reliable electricity to tens of thousands of people in rural Sierra Leone. From returning light to Bauya to providing reliable power for surgeries in Kambia District, to providing electricity and ice making to fishermen to enable fishermen to double their incomes in Port Loko, we are certain that the power we bring will transform the lives of Sierra Leoneans today and for generations to come.”
Energicity Corp is a developer and operator of off grid minigrid serving rural communities with subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria operating under the names Black Star Energy Ltd, Power Leone, Atanya Solar respectively. Energicity provides affordable, reliable electricity that is scalable to every household and commercial need. Energicity was a 2018 participant in the Ghana Climate Innovation Center, and one of the winners of the EDF Pulse Africa Prize in 2018.