In Sierra Leone, roughly five percent of people have access to electricity, while those that do have had to acclimate to sporadic blackouts because of the lack of a stable power supply. The energy situation is a serious impediment to Sierra Leone’s economic growth, particularly in the industrial and service sectors. The country is also one of a small number in West Africa with some of the highest costs of electricity generation and delivery in the world. Even with varying degrees of subsidies, these high costs translate into high tariffs relative to regional and global benchmarks. Together with unreliable service and poor quality of supply, these tariffs pose major competitive problems for commercial and industrial enterprises.
A major part of the Government of Sierra Leone’s solution to the energy crisis includes the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project, a 50 Megawatt water regulation and hydropower facility located on the Seli River near the town of Bumbuna. The 88 meter high, asphalt concrete-faced, rock fill dam will have a 440 meter crest-length and has already seen the construction of a water intake structure, two spillways with associated tunnels, an above-ground powerhouse with two 25 Megawatt turbo-generator units, and a Y-shaped reservoir with a width of 30 kilometers and 445 million cubic meters of storage capacity.
Bumbuna is expected to impound water in the reservoir in April 2008 or 2009 and to generate power starting in 2009. The project will then bring a stable supply of lowest cost and renewable electricity to Sierra Leone in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.
Funds for completion of the project include support from the World Bank (US$50.5 million consisting of an International Development Association grant of US$12.5 million and a partial risk guarantee of US$38.0 million), the African Development Bank (US$3.8 million), the Government of Italy (US$19.9 million); OPEC (US$8.4 million), the Netherlands Clean Development Facility (US$0.3 million), and the Government of Sierra Leone (US$8.9 million). The total project cost is US$91.8 million.
Click here for more information on the World Bank's contribution to the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project.