MIGA provides $25.6m guarantees for solar to power cell towers in West Africa

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THE World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has issued guarantees of up to $25.6 million to support solar power generation in Sierra Leone and Liberia for a period of up to ten years. The MIGA guarantees provide protection to Escotel Mauritius against the risks of Transfer Restriction, Expropriation, and War and Civil Disturbance.

MIGA’s guarantees will support the provision of electricity and logistical services to power existing and future cell phone towers (Telecommunication Network Sites or TNS) in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Escotel projects will be providing power through considerably more efficient and climate-friendly power solutions by installing photovoltaic solar panels at each TNS that will either supplement or replace entirely the diesel generators.

This will allow the telecommunication operator to modernise and expand the scope and quality of its services and will have a significant impact since providing power to TNS currently represents about 50 percent of the total operating costs due to unreliable supply and heavy reliance on expensive diesel generators. Of the  $25.6 million in guarantees, $13.5 million is for Escotel (SL) Limited in Sierra Leone, and $12.06 million is for Escotel Liberia Inc.

Greenhouse gas reduction

According to MIGA Executive Vice President Hiroshi Matano, MIGA’s clean energy guarantees to Escotel Mauritius will contribute positively to GHG reductions in Liberia and Sierra Leone. ‘The cost savings through a more energy- and cost-efficient supply of clean power also send a strong signal to other telecom providers in Africa,’ he said.

MIGA’s support for these projects will yield significant climate mitigation benefits. It is expected that 600 TNS will be modernized by 2028 in Sierra Leone, resulting in an avoidance of more than 58,000 tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions over the period. In Liberia, nearly 158,000 tons of CO2e emissions will be avoided by the modernization of 612 TNS over the same period.

Off grid and on grid power is very unreliable in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. In Sierra Leone, only 16 percent of the population has access to electricity; the electrification rate in the vast rural parts of the country is almost zero. Liberia still faces significant challenges transitioning its power sector from post-conflict recovery to long-term development and has one of the lowest rates of electrification in the world. Only 12 percent of the 4.8 million Liberians, and less than 20 percent of residents in the capital, Monrovia, have access to electricity.

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