In post-conflict situations, resources and expertise provided by the international donor community can contribute to the rebuilding of communities, national and rural infrastructure, and economies. In Liberia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) helped President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf deliver on her promise to turn the lights back on through a number of complementary initiatives addressing short-term needs and long-term development:
- The Emergency Power Program re-established the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and installed 2 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity in Monrovia, enough to power some street lights and buildings. This modest effort was the first visible sign of progress on rebuilding the power sector after the war.
- USAID financed the construction of a diesel generation plant on Bushrod Island. In less than one year, it added 10 MW of power generating capacity, doubled the number of customers, and spurred development of the electrical transmission system, making increased power generation possible.
- For the long-term development of Liberia’s power sector, USAID supported the Liberia Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). It developed a National Energy Policy and introduced pre-paid metering, which increased collections, improved LEC’s cash flow, and led to more responsible use of electricity. LEAP also ensures that renewable and clean energy plays a part in national energy policy.
- The Liberia Energy Sector Support Program is developing two hydro and two biomass generating facilities over a four-year period. This $19 million program will reach the rural population, much of which has never had electricity before.
Many challenges remain before Liberia’s energy sector can fully support commercial and residential power needs. Even today, fewer than 10 percent of the population has access to power. But USAID’s efforts, in partnership with the Liberian government and other donors, have furthered progress and momentum that is contributing to the development of the overall system and Liberia’s economic development.