The power plant was destroyed and looted during the civil war and are now rehabilitated with Norwegian support. With the first turbine operating the plant will be provide power to 40 000 households in the capital. Working full speed Mount Coffee has the capacity to provide power to 200 000 households.
Until now power has been the privilege of very few, since the maximum production capacity has been 22 MW and distribution networks have been limited to the capital. Liberia has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world. Only 2% of the population overall, and 5.8% of the population living in the capital Monrovia has up until today had access to electricity through the public grid.
When peace came to Liberia in 2003, the whole country's power sector was destroyed. Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the election in 2005 and re-electrification has been one of her main election promises: "Small light today, big light tomorrow." Norway helped to ensure emergency power after the war, and for the past ten years Norway has been involved in the longer-term reconstruction of power supply in the country.
- Increased access to clean energy is essential for growth and development, to create jobs and fight poverty. Hydropower has been crucial in the development of modern Norway. The reconstruction of Mount Coffee will give thousands of Liberian citizens access to electricity. This means a lot to people's everyday lives through safer neighbourhoods, lights for homework and better health facilities, said Mr Børge Brende at the opening ceremony.
Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country has faced steep reconstruction tasks after fourteen years of civil war. Two years ago, the country was also hit hard by the Ebola pandemic. The pandemic resulted in another setback for the country’s economy. Increased electrification incites new hope for progress, after the country has now been declared Ebola-free.
Liberia has been suffering from one of the highest power tariffs in the world. Development of the hydropower potential means lower electricity prices and increases accessibility, moreover, hydropower means less pollution from the many diesel generators that have so far been the source of electricity.
President Johnson Sirleaf reminded the audience that continued electrification will require political will and effort over time. Next year there will be presidential elections in Liberia and Ms Johnson Sirleaf will step down after finishing two periods. Then it will be important that the new office holders continue to invest in clean energy.
The Mount Coffee plant is expected to be completed and running at full capacity in October 2017. Norway has contributed NOK 600 million (USD 70 million) towards the rehabilitation and the establishment of a distribution network. The project is also supported by the US, Germany and the European Investment Bank. Overall Norwegian support to the energy sector in Liberia since 2007 stand at about one billion NOK (USD 116 million). The total cost of the plant is USD 365 million.