By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission (SLEWRC) has yesterday (Wednesday January 9th) in a technical workshop, engaged government stakeholders on the Drift Mini Grid Regulation.
The two-day technical workshop, which ends today, Thursday, 10th January, was hosted at the Lagoonda Entertainment Centre Conference Hall, Aberdeen in Freetown.
Speaking at the workshop, Director General of SLEWRC, Emmanuel Mannah, said the objective of the technical workshop on the drift mini grid regulation was to present the document to various stakeholders in the energy sector across the county.
He said the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) can't provide electricity to the entire country for now, but that working on such regulations will help to encourage bigger investors in the energy sector to come and invest in the country.
He said they will also be taking the document to the provinces and engage stakeholders, including local councils and includes whatever recommendations from the people into the document and present it to the House of Parliament for approval.
Deputy Minister of Energy, Eldred Tunde Taylor, expressed his delight to be in the middle of some of the most eminent stakeholders in the energy sector to critically review the draft regulations for the good of the country.
He said the presence of various government stakeholders reaffirmed that a unified mini grid regulation for the country will no longer just be a wish by certain sections of the society.
He said the ministry of energy was established to coordinate energy-related matters within its mandate including, developing policies and programmes for the provision of energy on a constant, affordable and sustainable basis for the people of Sierra Leone in line with the New Direction Manifesto.
He said the ministry recently completed the development of the Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency polices, reviewed the National Energy Policy and Strategic Plan and developed guidelines for the development of the Bioenergy polices.
He said 54 mini grids have been constructed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) with funds provided by Department for International Development (DFID).
The deputy energy minister said three have been constructed by Wealth Hunger Hilfe(WHH) ,with funds from the European Union, plus one constructed by Energy for Opportunity ENFO, with funds from ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
He said mini grid regulations helps to avoid duplication or conflict between entities wanting to produce and distribute small quantities of power in rural communities in the country, create conducive environment for private investors to participate in the mini grid market in Sierra Leone.
He further that the regulations ensure that current private mini grid operators improve on their systems and deliver their services in accordance with best practices, adding that as a government they have decided that they must ensure that an equitable level of national resources should be invested in renewable energy technologies.
Deputy Chairman of Parliamentary Oversight Committee on energy, Honourable Aiah D.S Kassegbama of Constituency 026 in Kono District, said he believes with the support of the government, things will work in the energy sector for the betterment of every Sierra Leonean.
He said the work of Parliament was to look into such regulations and pass them into law, as long as they were of benefit to the people, adding that power generation was very key because without it investors will not come into the country.
United Nations Office for Project Services Country Manager Nick Gardner, said Sierra Leone needs the regulation because it will enable private investors to make energy accessible to the people in a shorter medium term.
He said the current energy sector few years ago was bonded into separate elements for national efficiencies including the generation, management and distributors.
The Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission was established by an Act of Parliament with the Mandate to regulate person(s) engaged in activities in the electrical and water sectors throughout Sierra Leone.
The Commission is an independent institution tasked with the regulation of activities in the electrical and water sectors in Sierra Leone. Its main mission is the implementation of effective regulatory mechanisms for the provision of the highest quality of the electricity and water services to consumers.
The vision of the commission is to establish the highest standards of regulations in order to achieve an efficient and sustainable delivery of electricity and water services to consumers.