FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 5 (UPI) -- Work on a 3-megawatt hydro plant could help Sierra Leone break its dependence on foreign oil imports, the country's energy minister said.
Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, joined Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma in laying the foundation for the hydro plant in northwestern Sierra Leone.
"Small and micro hydro plants in rural areas of Sierra Leone will help improve access to modern energy services, boost market activities and irrigation," Yumkella said in a statement.
UNIDO said it was helping the country develop a feasibility study for a 10-megawatt project using $32 million from the Global Environment Facility, an international consortium committed to addressing global environmental issues.
Koroma said projects like these would help ensure energy security and economic success for his country.
"Once the hydro plants are constructed, the cost of generating hydro power is a small fraction of the cost of importing oil," Energy Minister Oluniyi Robin-Coker said. "Hydro can be a vital element of our economic recovery program."
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