Advancing mini-grids in Sierra Leone: Exploring a holistic framework of policies, regulations, and institutions

Feb 04, 2019

Source/author : Clean Energy Solutions Center

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Over the last decade, Sierra Leone has begun significant efforts to transform its energy sector. These include both institutional and policy reforms. Regarding the former, the Electricity Act (Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) 2011a; updated GoSL 2017) paved the way for unbundling the formerly monopolistic and vertically integrated state company National Power Authority (NPA), the liberalisation of the electricity supply sector, and the creation of the Regulatory Commission. Progress in policy development has been substantive as well, with the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) (Ministry of Energy (MoE) 2015) and National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP) (MoE 2016), the National Energy Efficiency Policy (NEEP) (MoE 2017), the Electricity Sector Reform Roadmap (MoE 2017a)  , the Sustainable Energy for All Action Agenda (SEforAll 2015) and SEforAll Investment Prospectus (SE4All 2016), as well as the draft Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission (SLEWRC) Mini-grid Regulations (SLEWRC 2018)  all having been launched within the last few years.

Several activities in this area are still ongoing, most importantly the updating of the 2009 National Energy Policy (NEP) with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the development of a Strategic Plan based on the new direction assigned by the Government that emerged for the March 2018 election.

The Mandate for Mini-Grids

The Sierra Leone Renewable Energy Policy sets a clear priority target to provide sustainable and costeffective electricity to all people, including the 60% of the population that lives in areas so remote that they are considered off-grid locations (GoSL 2016; Ochs 2017) . As part of its electrification efforts, the Government envisions a clear role for the development of mini-grids, which are considered the main solution for extending electricity access to 27% of the currently unelectrified population. Building on this mandate, the development of policy and regulation to support the mini-grid sector is being incorporated in broader energy sector planning. The Updated Electricity Sector Reform Roadmap (2018-2030) (MoE 2018) is a strategic document for the advancement of the power sector in Sierra Leone, incorporating both grid-connected and off-grid electrification planning and using a staged implementation approach. Measures targeted at the development of the mini-grid segment are an integral part of the Roadmap. A priority measure identified in the Roadmap – the development of mini-grid licensing – was recently included in the draft SLEWRC mini-grid Regulations (2018).

Overview and Use of the Assessment Framework Building on international best practices in the field of mini-grid development, this report presents a fivepillar analytical framework with a set of specific indicators. It has been designed for the purpose of this technical assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone, but it may be adapted for the analysis of othercountries as well. The detailed list of indicators aims to provide a comprehensive toolbox outlining key measures that, if fully implemented, can help create an enabling environment for the advancement of mini-grids in Sierra Leone. It can be used as a yardstick to guide decision makers as they design policies and measures in a situation of constrained human, financial, and technical resources.

The assessment framework has been designed by SD Strategies, as part of the Clean Energy Solutions Center Ask an Expert service, drawing from international literature on the creation of policies and regulations that support mini grid development

The selected indicators are used as the basis for an assessment of current policies, regulations and administrative systems; all reviewed documents are listed in the resources section at the end of the paper. It is important to note that several of the key documents are yet to be submitted for parliamentary approval or have only recently been approved. This is particularly the case for the draft SLEWRC Mini-grid Regulations. For this reason, the effectiveness of the implementation of these policies and measures cannot be fully assessed at this stage. Nevertheless, the analysis of indicators in the assessment framework informs the findings presented in this report and we hope they can be useful to further advance mini-grid sector development in Sierra Leone..

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