By Ahmed Fonike
The Ministry of Energy  has started the long awaited handing over of the Solar Street Lights installed in all the District headquarter towns and other
big towns including public places in Sierra Leone.

The exiting and colourful ceremony in the Bo City Council which attracted stakeholders like the Ministry of Local Government and Rural
development, the Sierra Leone Police Force, the Office of National Security, Paramount Chiefs, Heads of Councils, Ministry of Energy, Civil
Society Organizations, Women Organizations and the general public.
In the statements delivered by chairmen, Administrative Heads of the councils, they all expressed appreciation and happiness on behalf of the people
that the government through the Ministry of Energy has once more shown a true decentralization and respect to the councils in granting the councils
ownership of the popular solar Street Lights project. The mayor of Bo, His Worship Harold Tucker stated that members of the public especially the
defaulters had been questioning the Local Councils on the ownership or legitimacy of the solar street Lights. He continued that even though the
Ministry had been working with the Councils with the expressed and implied idea that the Councils and the Communities own the Solar Street Lights
could not  at that time grant them absolute right until when the facilities have now been publicly given to them. Like the other Local Councils in
Moyamba headed by Professor Bob Kandeh and Pujehun headed by Deputy Chairman, Kalilu Fofanah, the Chairmen and their Heads of
Administration outlined the importance of the solar Street   Lights in their Communities and how they would like to get more in the most remote
The Councils however asked questions on the sustenance and upkeep of the solar facilities and the replacement of the faulty ones by the Ministry.
The women’s Organizations thanked the Ministry of Energy for the Solar Lights but requested for the solar home systems that can be used in the
houses. The Security divisions (ONS and the Sierra Leone police) educated the public on how these Solar Street Lights have helped improve the
security of rural areas. The civil society groups suggested that the Ministry of Energy continue to monitor the project and help in the area of training
solar lights technicians and materials for the councils.
Delivering the keynote address, before signing the Memorandum of Understanding and handing over the Solar Street Lights to the various councils
on behalf of the Minister of Energy, the Director of Energy Ing Benjamin Kamara acknowledged the efforts of all stakeholders and stated that the
Ministry has a mandate to provide the people with affordable and sustainable electricity all over the country. In the area of security, he maintained
that electricity is everybody’s business as it is a right to all citizens. Ing. Kamara furthered that the Ministry cannot hand over faulty facilities to the
Local councils and so all faulty solar Lights are going to be repaired by the Ministry. The Director also assured the beneficiaries that the Ministry
through the Barefoot Women’s Solar College would continue to train solar technicians across the country but the councils should be ready to
absorb and encourage them.
He made it clear that Councils and communities that have allowed the solar street Lights to be vandalized and stolen can be guaranteed of any
replacement soon as they were supposed to secure the Lights in their communities. The Ministry officials which included the Head of the Planning
Unit, Ing. Dr. Wuseni, Head of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Robin Fullah Mansaray, Deputy Secretary, Emmanuel Junisa, ICT
Manager, Emile Francis, Monitoring and Evaluation officer, Moses Gbateh, Information/Communication Officer, Ahmed Fonike and others made
meaningful contributions in all Districts visited. The handing over is going on in all the Districts Headquarter towns across the country.
It could be recalled that in 2014, the Government through the Ministry of Energy rolled out a first phase of about 8,880 Solar Street Lights in all
the Districts across the country. The handing over to the councils was delayed due to Ebola and a second and larger phase of about 50,000 solar
poles will soon follow to cover the chiefdoms including public places.

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