Senator Amara Konneh

Urgent Call for Action: Revitalizing Liberia’s Energy Sector to Drive Economic Growth

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Urgent Call for Action: Revitalizing Liberia’s Energy Sector to Drive Economic Growth

While going through the Roberts International Airport yesterday, there was no electricity. All the flight systems and air conditioning units were down. The terminal was so hot that passengers and airport employees were fanning themselves with whatever was in their hands. This is unacceptable!

Eighteen years ago, our country had zero megawatts of grid power and absolutely no transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure. The UP Government declared it a national emergency. Today, it has about 200 megawatts of grid power. We have not only rebuilt the T&D infrastructure, but we have expanded it also to include regions of our country once disconnected from the national grid. I played a substantial role in these efforts because about 80 percent of the resources used to rebuild our energy sector were mobilized when I served as Minister of Finance and Development Planning, thanks to my team. But this isn’t about that.

It is disheartening and utterly despicable to see what is happening at LEC today. We should discard this culture of settling for mediocrity which continues to hold back our country. The UP Government that rebuilt the sector is back in power. President Boakai should appoint a solid new energy team. The donors don’t own the sector and the infrastructure. Liberia owns it.

With the current energy potential, President Boakai and his new energy and economic teams, supported by the legislature through strong oversight, must drive the economy from a single-shift (9-5 pm, 6 days a week) economy to a two-shift (8 am to midnight, 7 days a week) economy to put Liberians to work. We can debate the details since achieving this feat requires a multi-sectoral approach along the electricity-security-private sector nexus.

Our people are suffering too much! We have the low-hanging potential to change our country’s current position as the 8th poorest country in the world to alleviate some of the suffering our people are undergoing. We will achieve that only by mustering the political will to embrace competence over mediocrity. No one will do it for us. No amount of prayers and name-calling will change our position. Only leadership and hard work will cut it.

Photo: I am standing in front of the Kakata electricity substation and BWI. One of our visions for pushing electricity and the Internet into this primary economic corridor was to make BWI a center of excellence for science and technology, rendering the Monrovia to Ganta economic corridor a technology hub with the infrastructure and incentive to attract tech companies to set up shops there. Nothing has happened since then. We haven’t even tried it.

Thanks to my brother Taa Wongbe for calling the Legislature’s attention to the LEC mess. You have my full support in the Upper House!

Happy Sunday!

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