Pylon and street in Freetown, Sierra Leone

KTH further builds capacity with University of Sierra Leone to help support government’s new Energy Planning Unit and National Energy Strategy  

Energy planning is regarded as central to the optimisation of investments in energy production and infrastructure. Yet within Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, it is constrained by insufficient human and institutional capacity to effectively use models and decision support tools, as well as a lack of dedicated institutions for long-term capacity and skills development. Furthermore, existing electrification, energy, and integrated assessment models often lack critical data for informing policy analysis in low-income countries, in part because they are often closed-source, expensive, or difficult to adapt.

The EEG project on energy systems planning for Sustainable Development Goals, being led by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, is helping to address these capacity and data gaps by promoting the use of quantitative analysis through free, transparent, and robust energy modelling to directly inform energy policy in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

The project is drawing on the planning tools developed by the OpTIMUS Community of Practice, including the Open-Source Electrification Toolkit (OnSSET), the Open-Source energy Modelling System (OSeMOSYS), and the integrated Climate, Land-use, Energy, Water strategies (CLEWs/OSiMOSYS) framework. Capacity building in energy planning and policy making is a core element of the project, with open-source modelling tools being taught to individuals from identified institutions in the target countries.

In terms of progress, there have already been some very positive outcomes from the team’s recent trip to Sierra Leone, which will potentially influence decisions on energy planning and modelling and have an impact on policy.

Francesco Gardumi, researcher and deputy director at KTH Unit of Energy Systems Analysis, visited the University of Sierra Leone (USL) to support professors by attending key stakeholder meetings on national energy planning, and helping them to prepare a Policy Brief and set up a module on Energy Systems Planning.

A team of USL professors, who have previously been trained in OSeMOSYS through the EEG programme, invited Francesco to accompany them to meetings with different stakeholders involved with energy planning in Sierra Leone, including the Ministry of Energy, the Millennium Challenge Coordinating Unit (MCCU), the Energy & Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC), the Association of Engineers, Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC), and the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA).

An important meeting took place with the MCCU, which is channelling funding for the creation of an Energy Planning Unit (EPU) within Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Energy.

The new EPU will contribute to finalising the long-term energy strategy of the country. And, as the unit is still being established – with personnel being appointed and being trained/capacitated in modelling tools – the timing was ideal.

The meeting was very successful; the MCCU was impressed with USL’s involvement with energy modelling, and indicated that OSeMOSYS is a potentially interesting model that it’s open to using, and that USL could become a training partner. Further meetings and a workshop are planned – and if successful, OSeMOSYS will be introduced at a vital point in the preparation of Sierra Leone’s energy strategy, and USL, supported by KTH, will be responsible for the initial EPU training being funded by the MCCU.

KTH is also supporting USL professors in the completion of a Policy Brief, based on an OSeMOSYS model they developed during their EEG-funded training at Energy Modelling Platform for Africa (EMP-A) 2019 and in Trieste, Italy. The brief is a key document that KTH was keen to influence, and will provide further collateral to encourage key national stakeholders to use OSeMOSYS for the National Energy Strategy.

USL aims to deepen its knowledge further so it can continue to support national energy planning and modelling. To ensure long-term expertise, the university is creating new courses, again in close collaboration with KTH.

During his visit, Francesco met with the university’s senior management to finalise the agreement for setting up a module on Energy Systems Planning in the engineering department, starting from the academic year 2019-2020, and to be continued and improved in 2020-2021. USL has agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with KTH for remote support to be channelled through the OpTIMUS community.

Through these activities, KTH is helping to build the components of an energy planning ‘ecosystem’ – a key discussion point for the Roundtable Initiative on Strategic Energy Planning, which works with major development partners and technical institutions to improve the support they provide for energy planning in developing countries.

EEG acts as the Secretariat of the initiative. The objective is to improve the coherence of strategic energy systems planning by increasing the effective use of evidence and analysis by decision-makers in developing countries.