By Edwin G. Wandah
There was a spectacular turnout for the handing over ceremony of SMALL HYDRO POWER TECHNOLOGY CENTER at the Stella Maris Polytechnic on Tuesday April 29, 2014 when modern Hydro-Electrical equipment were officially handed over to the Institution on its Capitol Hill campus in the city of Monrovia by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two institutions which was initiated in December 2013 by UNIDO’s Project Manager and Allotment Holder, Mr. Rana P. Singh during his visit to Liberia. The handover of the equipment is to equip and establish a “Small Hydro Power Technology Center on the campus of the Polytechnic.
Addressing a cross section of students and other guests, Hon. Anyaa Vohiri , the keynote Speaker and Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and also Focal Person for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), said key issues affecting the energy sector of the country should be taken seriously. She stated that the modern Hydro-electrical equipment provided by UNIDO to the institution is indeed vital to the learning environment of students, mainly the Technical College.
Madam Vohiri stated further that as the Stella Maris Polytechnic takes the lead in the Energy Sector of the country, as it relates to institutional capacity building, it was an important venture for Government to extend more supports to empowering the institution in meeting its agenda in order to buttress UNIDO initiative, as Liberia has huge hydro power potential.
She pledged her Agency’s fullest support in working with the Stella Maris Polytechnic in enhancing a much needed sustainability and quality in the Liberian energy sector. According to her, since the EPA serves as the direct implemental in coordinating energy sector in the country as it relates to environmental regulations, it also gives them overall supervision in the regulatory drive of the energy sector drive in the country.
For her part, Stella Maris Polytechnic President, Sis Mary Lauren Browne, lauded UNIDO for at least standing by them in their quest to improve the institution to be on par with international standards. She thanks UNIDO for the partnership and selecting Stella Maris Polytechnic for establishing the center and handing over the equipment which the institution could not afford to procure for such venture, despite of the interest. She also used the occasion to caution the students to take advantage of the learning opportunity that has been given them thus far because, as according to her; the future was in their hands to utilize what has been provided them appropriately by UNIDO. She also assured UNIDO that the institution will ensure that the equipment is used for the intended purpose for which it was given.
Earlier, the Chief Technical Advisor of UNIDO, Mrs. Jovita Pewee Culaton Viray, told the audience that UNIDO strongly believes the spin-offs of such projects and initiative will create local by expertise in the design, installation and maintenance of Small Hydro Project systems thereby facilitating their promotion and sustainability.
She said the partnership between UNIDO and Stella Maris Polytechnic is motivated by the common interest the two institutions have in promoting renewable energy, energy efficient technologies and sustainable development in Liberia.
She further stated that the sole aim of establishing the center is amongst others to: promote clean energy innovation by teams of scientist and engineers from the two institutions; provide sustainable support for the integration of higher engineering education with its Small Hydro Project-related research activities in Liberia; Provide Stella Maris Polytechnic with the opportunity to partner with a global leader in Small Hydro Project, for knowledge transfer and information exchange, which can be used to implement targeted and effective Research and Development (R&D) programs, which can spur local Small Hydro Project innovation and ultimately support the development of a resilient local green energy technology industry in Liberia; train man power with strong basics in energy including Small , Energy Conservation, Sustainable Energy Systems; generate joint research activities in Small Hydro Project and related fields, and seek assistance for financial and other resources to facilitate this linkage; provide a more relevant theoretical and practical base for students’ development in the field of Small Hydro Project and related fields in Liberia; undoubtedly enhance the use of Small Hydro Project in Liberia and provide greater public awareness of the potentials of these systems. The issue of utilizing indigenous energy sources for useful energy such as power generation will assist Liberia with the provision of more efficient high quality energy and; promote greater participation in regional and international Research and Development (R & D) projects through joint implementation projects and investments in Liberia in the field of energy in general and SHP in particular.
She established that funding for the center as allocated by UNIDO is a result of The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) financed project title:Installation of Multi-Purpose Mini-Hydro Infrastructure for Energy and Irrigationin Liberia under its Strategic Program for West Africa- Energy component (SPWA-CC), which will soon see the construction and installation of a 1 Megawatt Mini Hydro Power Station in Suakoko District, Bong County and is also being co-financed by USAID and implemented by WInrock International/LESSP.
“We take note of Stella Maris Polytechnic’s high motivation in pursuit of promoting academic excellence coupled with its impressive portfolio considering her academic programs and her pioneering role in contributing to the skills and work force development which has undoubtedly attracted the industries, private and public sectors in Liberia,” Madam Viray stated.
According to her, UNIDO partner with educational and learning Institutions in countries she operates and similar initiative is currently being implemented in next-door Sierra Leone with the University of Sierra Leone (USL).
Speaking further; Madam Jovita Pewee Culaton Viray said the renewable energy is completely a new development concept to Liberia’s and must be prioritized as many have not yet seen the basic potential benefits the sector can yield in the development of the country if given the much needed attention, given the amount of renewable waters Liberia is blessed with.
“This Partnership between Stella Maris Polytechnic and UNIDO in the Renewable Energy Center provides the base for the development of a human resource pool to be engaged in renewable energy initiatives starting with small hydro power projects in the country,” Madam Viray stated.
Meanwhile, the Dean of Monsignor Stephen Kyne Technical College, Mr. Jay Exodus Flanjay lauded the Liberia Government and donor partners including UNIDO for at least partnering with them in their drive to improving the technical College of the Stella Maris Polytechnic gets on par with other higher learning institutions in the country and the global scene as well.
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