Sierra Leone
Just Energy Transition

Hydropower to Lower Fossil-Fuel Dependency

Sierra Leone has one of the lowest electricity access rates in the world at only 26% of the population. That means that six million Sierra Leoneans live with no access to power, the deepest form of energy poverty. Sierra Leoneans consume about 177 kWh per person per year. By contrast, the average Ghanian consumes twice as much electricity and yet Ghana is still considered very energy poor. Even with so little electricity use, Sierra Leone’s generation capacity can satisfy just a tenth of current demand.

Much of Sierra Leone’s limited generation capacity comes from hydropower, whose outputs can vary significantly based on seasonal rainfall and due to extended periods of drought. Most of its remaining supply comes from foreign-owned offshore power barges that are quick to shut down in the case of technical or financial troubles. These power barges, which produce as much as 60% of the country’s electricity during the dry season, burn heavy fuel oil or diesel. They’re expensive, polluting, and a continual drain on Sierra Leone’s precious foreign reserves.

Alliance in Action

With the support of Alliance partners such as the USTDA, Power Africa, African Development Bank, and others, Sierra Leone is taking action to address its electricity production deficit through a major new hydroelectric dam project in the north of Sierra Leone.

How we work

2030 Targets


With new or improved access


New and improved jobs


Carbon avoided by 2030

The 27 MW Betmai hydropower project is expected to produce 132 GWh of electricity every year, increasing the country’s power generation capacity by at least 10 percent and its renewable capacity by over 27 percent. The Betmai project is also expected to accelerate the development of the entire Sierra Leone power sector through its inclusion of government capacity-building and large investments in local electricity transmission and distribution systems. Improvements in power systems, regulatory capacity, and the financial stability of Sierra Leone’s power sector will create a foundation for further investment in the coming years.

Betmai will create a large, inexpensive, and reliable source of electricity for Sierra Leone’s under-powered economy, particularly the agricultural processing and mining industries. It is currently estimated that this additional power will help create or improve more than 300,000 jobs while providing new or improved electricity access to more than 175,000 residents. By displacing carbon-intensive energy from diesel generators, the Betmai project, after just five years of operation, is expected to have cut emissions by at least 675,000 tons of CO2e. This is comparable to taking over 146,000 US passenger vehicles off the road for a year.

Local residents and industry will gain access to cleaner, more reliable, more affordable electricity.