Under the terms of the agreement, Joule Africa and its local partner Energy Services Company (ESCO) will build an extension of the existing 50 MW Bumbuna I hydroelectric power plant in the north-east of the country and add 143 MW of electricity capacity. Construction of the BumbunaII crop is expected to begin in mid-2018 and operations are expected to begin four years later. Seli Hydropower will be responsible for the construction, ownership and operation of Bumbuna II. Joule Africa has signed a 25-year contract with the Sierra Leonean government for the 143 MW Bumbuna II hydroelectric project. In a clear sign that the Sierra Leonean government is taking steps to get the country back on its feet after the Ebola crisis, it today signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (AAE) with Joule Africa to give it the power it sorely needs throughout the year. Sierra Leone`s president said the government prioritizes electricity generation as part of its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The country intends to increase households with access to electricity to 30% by the end of 2030, up from 13.5% at the end of 2015. The current electricity supply is being challenged by generating capacity and seasonal variations and is being disseminated through inadequate and aging transmission and distribution networks. It comes at very high costs, with Sierra Leone having one of the highest electricity rates in the sub-region. There are many hydropower cascades and plenty of sunlight for solar power generation with an estimated water project potential of more than 1000 MW, while solar possibilities exceed 240 MW. The main Bumbuna Dam hydraulic force, with a peak of 50MW during the rains, is reduced to 8MW in the dry season. Power Africa, a multi-partner initiative to increase electricity efficiency in sub-Saharan Africa, supported Sierra Leone in 2015 with a four-year, $44.4 million program by the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The programme focused on three major projects, namely strengthening the regulator, restructuring the water sector and streamlining the electricity sector, which guide the development of a roadmap for the implementation of reforms to improve financial sustainability and operational efficiency. Other initiatives taken by the government include the establishment of a renewable energy project in rural areas to promote better access to rural energy resources, a rural electricity fund and a Rural Electricity Fund to promote and provide wider electrification in all regions, a project to strengthen renewable energy to develop a knowledge base for existing renewable energy policies. The West African Power Pool (WAPP) “Côte d`Ivoire-Liberia-Sierra Leone-Guinea” (CLSG) project aims to increase electricity supply to these countries to meet growing demand and stimulate hydroelectric potential in Sierra Leone. Joule Africa and the Sierra Leonean government have signed a 25-year contract for electricity from a 143 MW extension of the 50 MW Bumbuna station. This extension, called Bumbuna II, will be located on the Upper Seli River in the north-east of the country.