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WB boosts Lesotho’s energy supply

World Bank Country Director Ms. Marie-Francois Marie Nelly

March 13, 2020 3 min read

Lesotho’s rural and industrial areas’ access to electrification that will include Belo in Butha-Buthe, Bera, Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek will be boosted following the Wolrd Bank’s loan of M824 million. The purpose of the loan, signed in Maseru on Friday March 12 between finance minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro and World Bank Country Director Ms. Marie-Francois Marie Nelly, the loan is meant to improve access to electricity in rural and peri-urban areas of Lesotho through Lesotho’s Renewable Energy and Energy Access Project.

The agreement was signed in the presence of among others Minister of Energy, Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) Managing Director Dr. Leketekete Ketso, Principal Secretary Finance Mrs. Motena Ts'olo. The project has three key components being Grid Extension to peri-urban areas of Lesotho at M458 million, Rural Electrification by Mini-grids at M365 million and Technical Assistance and Implementation Support at M44.3 million.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Majoro said the project is to support rural access to electrification as well as industrial electrification saying that industrial sites to benefit include Belo in Botha-Bothe, Berea, Mokhotlong and Qacha's Nek so that they can prosper and thrive.

He said in order to test capacity of hydro power, Lesotho is going to roll out off-grid solutions which he said it is found to present a least cost option for the country through Electrification Master Plan and geospatial analysis.

He noted that LEC will be providing distribution to the communities as well as existing industrial parks. He added that they intend to reach over 300,000 households with this off-grid (mini-grid).

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Dr. Majoro therefore urged the Minister of Energy to ensure that the project kick-starts as soon as possible and that it is effectively and efficiently implemented.

In appreciation, the Minister of Energy Professor Ntoi Rapapa said the project has come at an opportune time to support the country saying it is one of its kind and the first in the country.

He expressed his gratitude to World Bank and Ministry of Finance for the tremendous job saying it is now up to them as implementers to ensure that the project is well implemented in time and effectively and efficiently.

He said Lesotho imports half of its power from South Africa generated from coal which he said affects the climate change saying with this project they are going a long way as the country in addressing climate change.

He appealed to his ministry's officials to pull up their socks and ensure that the project becomes a success emphasising that power has to be part of people wherever they are regardless of who they are.

In her remarks, Ms Marie-Francois Marie Nelly said electricity is important for the economic and social development saying in this era of forth industrial revolution they cannot function without electricity.

She added that World Bank have to make it happen that Basotho have access to electricity wherever they are.

Ms. Marie Nelly appealed to the government to ensure that the project is rolled out immediately saying it is going to address the economic issues such as job creation particularly for the youth.

She noted that it is not enough that only 40 percent of Basotho have access to electricity saying introducing mini-grids is adapting to community in a very reasonable way.

She indicated that among others the project with its third component will focus solely on assessing the barriers a graduate would face in reaching the labour market and aspects around recruiting, retaining and promoting women in the energy sector.

Meanwhile the project is expected to be completed in seven years and it is going to benefit 256 households. The repayment period for this concessional loan is 20 years with grace period of five years at the interest rate of 1.25 percent and 0.75 percent service fee.

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