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Liberia to Boost Power Output Five-Fold by 2018, Ministry Says

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Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Liberia plans to boost electricity output by almost five-fold by 2018 to reduce the cost of doing business in the West African nation, the Finance Ministry said.

The country will spend $20 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year building a 10-megawatt heavy fuel oil-fired plant, while another two 10-megawatt facilities are planned over the next 18 to 24 months financed by the World Bank and the Japanese government, the ministry said in a statement today in Monrovia, the capital. The three new plants are expected to more than halve the cost of power in Liberia, it said.

Liberia is rebuilding its economy after civil wars between 1989 and 2003 in which an estimated 250,000 people died and most of its infrastructure was destroyed. The country currently produces 23 megawatts of electricity for its 4.1 million people, one of the lowest per capita rates in the world, according to the ministry.

“This makes doing business very expensive for small and medium businesses, and manufacturing almost impossible,” Finance Minister Amara Konneh said in the statement. “That’s why our priority now is energy.”

A further $35 million has been allocated to improve transmission and distribution networks, while the government is in talks with Germany, Norway and the European Investment Bank about the $200 million needed to rehabilitate the 64-megawatt Mount Coffee hydro-power station, the ministry said.

“Within five to six years, we want to have 100MW of power available,” Mr Konneh said.

Liberia’s $672 million budget for 2012-13, approved in August, relies on donors funding 10 percent, while $80 million will be raised from borrowings.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elise Zoker in Monrovia via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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