Country Manager, Sierra Leone

Closing date
11 Jan 2022
Freetown, Sierra Leone (home-based)
International Relations and Special Projects Team
Duration of assignment
One year with possibility to extend
Contract type
Limited-term full-time staff
SDG7 logo

Context of the assignment

Sierra Leone is among the countries with the lowest electricity access in Africa and the world.  According to Tracking SDG7: the Energy Progress Report, in 2019, Sierra Leone had a total electricity access rate of 23% (51% for urban populations and 2% for rural populations). While the government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has made some strides in improving access to (clean) energy in the past decade, progress has been slow, especially in rural areas where 65% of the population resides. Urgent energy supply shortfalls have led to an overreliance on heavily polluting fossil-fueled energy sources and contributed to the low electricity access rate. Even for grid-connected communities, the quality and reliability of the electricity supplied is poor, leading to long and frequent power outages. The lack of access also means that social services such as healthcare facilities and schools are unable to power key equipment, leading to poor health and educational outcomes. In short, Sierra Leone’s lack of affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy is hindering socioeconomic development.

In response to the aforementioned challenges, under the overarching objective of achieving SDG7 and a clean energy transition, and in line with the government’s priorities, SEforALL and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) have partnered together to design a two-year programme of work aimed at: (1) reducing emissions; (2) increasing electrification of communities and social services; and (3) creating an enabling environment to unlock further investment in renewable energy in Sierra Leone. To achieve these goals, SEforALL, working closely with GEAPP, will carry out the following three workstreams:

  1. Government and Stakeholder Engagement: SEforALL will provide high-level engagement and in-country support in Sierra Leone, including interfacing with key government and other stakeholders around the processes for achieving on-grid and off-grid electrification targets by improving the enabling environment to address the GoSL’s power shortfall and support the country’s overall electricity access goals. This workstream will lay the groundwork for building political will in the government to implement recommendations and prioritize actions to achieve universal energy access and advance the government’s clean energy transition and coordinating key donor programmes in the SDG7 space in the country.
  2. Betmai Hydroelectric Project: SEforALL will help enable, through legal and project management support, the financial closure of the Betmai Hydroelectric Project in Sierra Leone. This project has been under development for the past eight years and requires finalization of outstanding legal and technical studies before financing can be mobilized. Once constructed, the project is expected to provide enough reliable, clean, and affordable electricity for 500,000 people in Sierra Leone and unlock over USD 100 million in private investment.
  3. Powering Social Infrastructure: SEforALL will provide a definitive assessment of the energy needs of the health and education sectors across all of Sierra Leone and provide government and financial partners with a clear strategy to support the electrification of social infrastructure (herein referred to as the “Roadmap”). SEforALL will also provide targeted technical assistance and strategic advisory services to support the adoption and initial implementation of the Roadmap, as well as design a monitoring mechanism that will help track progress of the Roadmap’s objectives.

Together, these workstreams take an ecosystem approach to the energy access challenge in Sierra Leone that works to address issues related to supply, demand, and the enabling environment.

Purpose/Objective of the role

The objective of this role is to support on-ground, high-level engagement with government and other stakeholders in Sierra Leone, build a strong SEforALL relationship with in-country partners and coordinate all workstreams under this programme. The individual will provide senior-level, expertise, and overall oversight to the programme, leading to the following outcomes: (1) enabling the Betmai hydroelectric project to reach financial close; (2) providing clear recommendations for the Government of Sierra Leone to power social infrastructure; and (3) garnering strong government support for the programme and other related energy interventions. The individual will also act as the on-ground liaison and help facilitate other SEforALL and GEAPP efforts in Sierra Leone as needed and build support within the government and across the stakeholder community to advance additional interventions in support of achieving SDG7 and a clean energy transition.

This expertise and oversight will be provided by an individual, who will form part of a larger programme team (comprised of SEforALL staff and consultants) responsible for delivering this body of work. The Country Manager is envisioned to have significant experience with government engagement and relationship building across multiple stakeholders, have an in-depth knowledge of Sierra Leone’s power sector and energy access challenges and the ability to manage and drive programme implementation under limited supervision.

Duties and tasks

The primary duties and tasks of the role include, but are not limited to:

1. Establishing a strong in-country presence and building relationships with government and other stakeholders to support coordination across the programme, coordinate across the range of SEforALL and GEAPP interventions and build support for implementation of key recommendations.

  • Identify key public sector partners and stakeholders for engagement and partnership, establishing focal points across various relevant authorities (e.g. energy, health, education and possibly agriculture), initiating coordination platforms where appropriate.
  • Engage with key stakeholders on an ongoing basis to establish a strong on-ground presence and trusted relationship with government leaders and other partners and stakeholders to advance implementation of key actions and recommendations.
  • Provide ongoing coordination support between the workstreams and activities under this programme, as well as with other SEforALL and GEAPP activities, to ensure a cohesive and well-structured approach and messaging to government and other key stakeholders and ensure an alignment of the approach to national and regional energy strategies. This will include, among other things, two other SEforALL engagements in Sierra Leone related to energy access. The first is a multi-donor, results-based financing facility called the ‘Universal Energy Facility’ (UEF), which was launched in Sierra Leone in October 2020. The Country Manager will be responsible for communicating and consulting with government counterparts and other country stakeholders (donors, private sector etc.) and reviewing country-specific deliverables, in collaboration with the SEforALL’s UEF Programme Management team. He/she will advise on any programmatic risks and issues related to the UEF and provide solutions, where applicable. The second is a series of technical assistance assignments focused on improving mini-grid tariffs in Sierra Leone. SEforALL is also exploring, under the umbrella of the Energy Transition Council, the possibility of developing an energy transition plan for Sierra Leone. The Country Manager would be responsible for helping build political support for the plan and then, once done, helping see it implemented.

2. Overseeing legal and project management services for the Betmai Hydroelectric Project.

  • Provide ongoing management of the two consultancies in the provision of legal and project management services. This includes ensuring the firms deliver:
    Legal: Signed equity agreements; Amended Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), if necessary to reach financial close; Signed Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), Operation and Maintenance (O&M) and Long-Term Service Agreements (LTSA) agreements with selected bidders; Signed financing agreements with lenders; Signed MIGA and PRG agreements with the World Bank Group, if necessary.
    Project Management: Financial Close strategy and timeline; PPA review; EPC Contract Tender Process; O&M Contract Tender Process; Credit Enhancement Approach; Licensing/Permit Review (prepared with local and external counsel); Preliminary Insurance Report; MLA appointment process
  • Develop a mid-term progress report (timing to be agreed with GEAPP) on the overall development of the Betmai Hydroelectric Project, as informed by the two contractors (legal and project management) and including what has been accomplished to date and what stands in the way of the project’s financial close.
  • Develop a final report on the overall development of the Betmai project, as informed by the two contractors (legal and project management).
  • Facilitate communication and updates with GEAPP partners, as needed.

3. Documenting and disseminating lessons learned and recommendations for future action.

  • Document key bottlenecks and conduct an evaluation on the enabling environment to identify recommendations that would allow for scaled up private sector investment in renewable energy (e.g. Betmai) in Sierra Leone to meet electrification targets.
  • Convene government and other stakeholders to share findings of the evaluation and inform future IPP processes and regulations.
  • Through Betmai evaluation and ongoing government engagement, identify capacity building and resourcing needs across relevant agencies and institutions to support development of the renewable energy sector (including the distributed renewable energy sector) and achievement of energy access and energy transition goals.
  • Liaise with SEforALL’s Policy and Regulatory Frameworks team to ensure complementarity with ongoing mini-grid tariff review work.

4. Providing on-ground support to the Powering Social Infrastructure workstream.

While the Powering Social Infrastructure workstream of this programme will be implemented by SEforALL’s Powering Healthcare team, this position may need to liaise with and provide on-ground, relationship management, as needed.

5. Planning, tracking and reporting on the programme

  • Manage the programme’s overall workplan and budget.
  • Work with SEforALL’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team on donors reports and other MEL activities.
  • Drive strategic communications around the programme within and outside of SEforALL.

6. In collaboration with the responsible programme lead, managing and/or coordinating teams or individual consultants and staff assigned to programmes and projects in Sierra Leone.

The role requirements

  • Several years (ideally 15 years or more) of hands-on experience in the development and financing of renewable energy projects in emerging markets (preferably in Sierra Leone or Sub-Saharan Africa).
  • Problem-solving: Deriving objectives for own unit, implementing and specifying tasks, products, processes and standards. Decision-making with short-term to long-term focus as well as enhancing and handling process issues and objectives for decision-making.
  • Interaction: Consulting and influencing top management as a topic owner; Leading negotiations and communications
  • Impact: Impact on various results offers, processes or other units. Contributing to the development of mid-term strategies.
  • Discretion/ Discretionary powers: Acts within general functional or unit objectives (e.g., KPIs, budget compliance, program and project targets, fundraising targets, donor compliance, partnership development and maintenance, etc.)
  • Leadership: People management typically of specialists
  • Education: Advanced university degree in energy, business management, policy, economics, engineering, or a closely related field.
  • Functional /Specialist expertise: Broad expertise in own field; Extended expertise in other fields; Knowledge of markets, industry and organization in speciality areas
  • Methods expertise: Thorough theoretical and practical expertise in applying advanced principles, methods and tools; Expertise in leading people/teams
  • Eligibility to work in Sierra Leone; preference will be given to candidates based in Freetown. 

Functional-technical competencies specific to the role

  • Ability to manage and drive programme implementation under limited supervision.
  • Experience managing complex, multi-stakeholder projects.
  • Strong people management and team working skills to build and motivate individuals and teams in order to deliver objectives.
  • In-depth knowledge of Sierra Leone’s power sector and energy access challenges
  • Significant experience with government engagement and relationship building across multiple stakeholders
  • Familiarity with Sierra Leone’s power sector, especially its policy and regulatory framework.
  • Familiarity with and experience engaging key stakeholders in Sierra Leone’s energy sector, including government agencies, development partners and private sector actors.
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