In West Africa, the transformational Côte d’Ivoire–Liberia–Sierra Leone–Guinea (CLSG) interconnection project, central to a dynamic and modern electric power market in West Africa, is bringing together four countries to share electricity for the benefit of over 20 million people.
Through technical assistance, Power Africa is supporting CLSG’s Project Management Unit (PMU) to oversee the production of affordable and cleaner energy for the region.
The History of CLSG
Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have some of the lowest electricity access rates in the world, due to high fuel costs, insufficient generation capacity, and system unreliability, among other factors. The CLSG project enables them to import electricity from Côte d’Ivoire, which has a higher electrification rate and lower-cost production than its neighbors.
CLSG is a partnership with the participating countries’ utilities: the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) of Sierra Leone, Electricité de Guinée (EDG), and CI-Energies of Côte d’Ivoire. In 2012, the four nations signed a treaty to establish Transco CLSG, an international company to finance, construct, operate, and maintain transmission infrastructure for CLSG.
Transco CLSG has managed the construction of a 1,303 km transmission line stretching between the four countries. The CLSG transmission network now integrates one existing and 11 new substations. It has a maximum capacity of 243 MW, with the potential to be doubled by building a second circuit. Power Africa supported the signing of power purchase agreements and transmission services agreements between Transco CLSG and the four national utilities.
Since 2021, to ensure successful long-term operation of the system, Power Africa provided a series of trainings, workshops, and other support activities to more than 60 staff members at Transco CLSG and the national utilities. This support covered project management, operating standards and procedures, overall business operations, the development of resettlement action plans for affected regions, and monitoring and evaluation techniques.
Moving forward, Power Africa will deliver the next phases of trainings to the PMU staff on these topics, as well as trainings on the implementation and use of a geographic information system (GIS). Power Africa is also providing ongoing infrastructure-related technical support for line construction, operation, and maintenance.
Access to Electricity
The CLSG partnership has increased power access across Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, particularly in rural areas. In regions near the transmission lines, CLSG has enabled more than 96,000 connections in more than 100 localities, providing electricity not just to homes, but also to schools, health centers, businesses, and places of worship. The project has also opened possibilities for new large-scale electrification projects.
Furthermore, the CLSG network has provided a major boost to the national transmission infrastructure in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where high-voltage lines previously did not exceed 160 kV. The project has significantly improved the reliability and stability of the national electricity systems in both countries.
By partially replacing expensive domestically generated power with cheaper power generated in Côte d’Ivoire, CLSG allows Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to supply electricity to consumers at much lower costs. Whereas the previous average cost of domestically generated power was $0.27–$0.50/kWh (depending on the locality), these three countries may eventually be able to import at a rate of $0.13/kWh. Electricity sharing has also lowered costs for importers and opened up new markets for CI-Energies in Côte d’Ivoire, creating new revenue channels and helping to improve the financial performance of all four national utilities.
The CLSG interconnector is also helping to mitigate climate change. Enabling cheaper power imports to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea may, in the long term, replace thermal power generators like diesel plants that are high greenhouse gas emitters.
For example, after connecting to the CLSG line, the city of Nzerekore in Guinea dismantled its 2.5 MW diesel oil power plant, reducing CO2 emissions by about 14,600 tons in 2022. In the cities of Bo and Kenema in Sierra Leone, the shutdown of a thermal power plant has reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 52,333 tons.
Toward Further Integration
The CLSG project is part of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) effort to develop a regional electricity market, providing all countries in West Africa access to well-priced and reliable electricity. As an institution, WAPP is responsible for facilitating cooperation and collaboration to enable the whole region to benefit from economies of scale in power production.
Power Africa is working with WAPP to strengthening WAPP’s program management and investment studies, foster the continued development of the regional market, and provide affordable, stable, reliable electricity across West Africa.