National Energy Consultant, 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
Short-term Consultant, Full-time
SDG7 Pavilion at COP26

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 are 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 the 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 consultancy is to provide technical expertise and back-stopping to the project, especially to workstreams #1 and #3.

This support will be provided by an individual consultant, who will form part of a larger project team (comprised of SEforALL staff and consultants) responsible for delivering this programme. The National Energy Consultant is envisioned to be an experienced professional with good knowledge of Sierra Leone’s power sector and who can lead certain project tasks.

Duties and tasks

The consultant will be responsible for:

A. Developing a ‘Powering Social Infrastructure Roadmap’ that provides the GoSL and its development partners with a data-driven plan for electrifying the country’s underserved health facilities and schools. This will include:

  1. Stakeholder/intervention mapping:
    • Map all relevant stakeholders (public sector, donors, development partners, private sector, civil society) and their respective roles in the electrification of schools and health facilities in Sierra Leone.
    • Document past, ongoing, and planned electrification interventions in the education and health sectors.
    • Take stock of all relevant policies, regulations, and other enabling environment factors.
  2. Facility mapping:
    • Identify datasets and visualizations that map the location of all schools and health facilities through GIS (e.g. WRI Energy Access Explorer, Access Insight Platform, World Bank’s Global Electrification Platform)
    • Log (where feasible) the electrification status of all schools and health facilities based on available data and information.
    • Identify least-cost technologies (SHS, mini-grid, grid extension) to provide reliable power to social institutions (subject to data availability)
  3. Energy needs assessment:
    • Review recent energy needs assessments of social infrastructure (e.g. from ongoing interventions).
    • Provide support to and oversight of a Technical Firm that will carry out detailed technical energy audits at 5 hospitals, up to 10 primary health facilities, and up to 10 secondary schools. Review the current costs of any existing power solutions at these facilities (to be developed by a technical firm).
    • Assess the current availability of electricity-dependent appliances for healthcare and education, and the opportunity to introduce energy-efficient appliances in both sectors.
  4. Technology and cost assessment
    • Provide support to a Technical Firm that will develop customized technical designs/specifications for energy solutions for 5 hospitals, and standardized technical designs/specifications for energy solutions for primary health facilities and secondary schools.
    • Provide support to a Technical Firm in costing (CapEx and OpEx) the proposed energy solutions for the 5 hospitals, primary health facilities, and secondary schools.
  5. Delivery and financing models:
    • Take stock of the current sources and levels of funding/financing for the electrification of social infrastructure, including funding for existing programs (e.g. EPI cold chains) and budgets for utilities and health infrastructure.
    • Evaluate the feasibility of different delivery and financing models, with a particular focus on how to improve long-term sustainability and leverage private sector financing and expertise. Analyze existing sector capacities/skills and affordability gaps.
  6. Develop a report with key findings and practical recommendations for scaling up the electrification of social infrastructure in Sierra Leone, targeted to Government stakeholders and their development partners, covering:
    • Size of the energy gap in healthcare and education
    • Overview of enabling environment (e.g. policies, minimum standards)
    • Appropriate technical solutions (supply and demand)
    • Funding and financing gaps (CapEx and OpEx), and opportunities for innovative delivery models
    • Expected health and other impacts (e.g. improved health outcomes; GHG emission reductions)
    • Implementation roadmap
    • Practical recommendation for public agencies (MinHealth, MinEducation, MinEnergy) and their development partners to significantly scale up health facility electrification interventions
  7. Develop and implement a dissemination strategy with the aim of validating the report and creating buy-in from key stakeholders from the energy, health, and education sector.
  8. Technical assistance and strategic advisory support:
    1. Provide targeted technical assistance to Government agencies and/or their development partners in the design of ongoing and planned large-scale electrification interventions targeting social infrastructure. Examples of potential activities, which will be aligned with demand during the inception phase, include:
      • Deep-dive feasibility analysis into the most promising delivery model options, including scoping of sector capacity in support of specific delivery models and strategies.
      • Supporting the development of a dynamic information system for capturing and monitoring the state of electrification of all public institutions.
      • Developing and/or reviewing bidding documents in preparation for a large-scale intervention.
      • Supporting the establishment of a multi-sectoral working group on energy/health/education.

B. Documenting and disseminating lessons learned and recommendations for future action. This includes:

  1. Assist in identifying energy access and energy transition gaps, trends, and trajectories, and map the stakeholder landscape and potential entry points for support.
  2. Ensure recommendations from SEforALL's work on mini-grid tariff design are included and consistent with lessons learned as it relates to the mini-grid sector and enabling environment.
  3. Support the Country Manager for Sierra Leone to:
    • 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 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.
    • 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.
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