Small business owners in Liberia can now heave a sigh of relief after power costs have drastically reduced.
One such owner is Eva Kolie who runs a bakery in a suburb in the capital Monrovia.
Eva had already bought electric mixers in order to meet customer demand but she says the cost of running the machines via a generator was unbearable.
“Before, when we plugged in the mixers, it cost us between 14 euros and 19 euros per day to run the generator. Today we spend about 45 euros in a week. It is much cheaper,” she said.
Thanks to the Liberia’s government, the Mount Coffee hydro-power plan which had been destroyed during civil conflict in early 1990s is now operational.
Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf presided over the ceremony to switch back on the first turbine in December after undergoing extensive repairs over the last five years at an estimated cost of 336 million euros from US, European and Saudi funding.
According to the county’s state power company, the first turbine can generate a maximum capacity of 22MW and the second 22MW turbine is due on line in the next few weeks with two more to follow by years’ end.
“It has been a challenge because the network was not prepared for the kind of reliability that Mount Coffee would afford us, but we have since overcome that challenge,” said Ian Yhap, board chairman of Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).
More than 15,000 new customers have been connected to the grid since Mount Coffee was switched back on and the state power corporation hopes to connect 100,000 others by the end of the year.
But, in a country where about 40 percent of power generated is siphoned illegally, authorities have a tough task ahead to ensure that the population estimated at 4 million people not only get affordable but also regular power supply.