“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, you would recall that Government's objective in the energy sector is to increase population access to cost effective electricity supply. In 2018, my Government promised to (i) conduct technical audit of the energy sector (ii) undertake robust reform in the energy sector (iii) restore electricity supply to all district capitals (iv) invest in low cost renewable energy potential of the country in the areas of solar, hydro, wind and biomass.
I am pleased to report that a technical audit has been conducted. Among many other things, the Audit recommends strengthening internal controls in the Ministry and affiliated parastatals, EDSA and EGTC, development of a Strategic Plan for the sector and development of a long term strategy for power supply rather than rely on high cost emergency power deals. I urge the Ministry of Energy in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance to work with the Boards and Managements of both EDSA and EGTC to implement the recommendations of the Audit.
Regarding power generation, in 2018, Government signed with Karpowership contract to provide power to Freetown. The new Contract saved the Government US$9 million dollars yearly and US$18 million dollars for the two year contract. Also, a project has been designed, completed, and equipment delivered to site for a 6 Megawatt (Mw) Solar Power Park at Newton and a 50Megawatt (Mw) Solar Power Purchase Agreement awaits Financial Close.
In the area of Transmission & Distribution, work on the Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea line is at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed in 2020. The Bumbuna and Kamakwie sub-stations have been completed; those in Kenema and Bumpeh are underway. The towers from Gendema to Bumpeh are 90% completed.
I am also delighted that Government has negotiated with the IDA additional resources of US$50 million to upgrade the network and improve on the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) in the Western Area. It is anticipated that this project will be approved in next month. Government has also made available resources for developing T&D to all district capitals in phases.
Since December, EDSA Electricity Vending is now operated by all Aggregators under an Advance Payment Scheme Contract since December 2018. Government has also awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of Electricity House that was burnt and abandoned a few years ago. This will substantially reduce the huge cost of rents paid to landlords.
Overall, between February 2018 and January 2019, energy sales (kWh) increased by 46.9% and the number of EDSA customers also increased to 195,094 in March 2019 from 175,315 in April 2018 representing an 11% increase. Generation utilisation in Freetown also increased from 93.5% in April 2018 to 98.1% in February 2019 at a peak of 70 Megawatt (Mw). 27
Government has also signed 4 Public Private Partnership for the Rural Renewable Energy Projects and 13 regulations of the Electricity and Water Regulation Commission have been developed and ready for Parliamentary ratification for Tariff and Mini-grids.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, Government will organise this quarter of the fiscal year an Energy Roundtable that will bring all stakeholders in the sector to develop a concrete medium and long term strategy for the energy sector in the country. This will be a road map for transitioning from the current reliance on high cost emergency power supply to cost effective sustainable power supply.