An African initiative to increase solar generation capacity to provide access to electricity to 250 million people in Africa’s Sahel region for socio-economic development continues to attract financial support from around the world.
Launched in 2019 by the African Development Bank Group and partners, the Desert to Power initiative is designed to make Africa a source of renewable energy.
Desert to Power will develop and deliver 10 gigawatts of solar power by 2030 in 11 countries where 64% of the population lives without electricity, with consequences for education, health and business. The project will have a positive impact in Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
In an act carried out during the 27the At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh on Friday, the Global Energy Partnership for People and Planet, represented by its executive director for Africa, Joseph Nganga, announced $35 million in support of the Sustainable Energy Fund. for Africa (SEFA) under the initiative.
SEFA is a special multi-dollar fund created to provide catalytic financing to unlock private sector investment in renewable energy.
Norway’s minister for international development, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, announced a contribution of NOK 300 million (about $29 million) from her government to support SEFA.
The event, organized by the African Development Bank at the Africa Pavilion at COP27 titled Desert to Power: transforming the Sahel from fragility to resilience and prosperity.brought together government ministers, development partners and private sector representatives to discuss how to facilitate private sector investment in the Sahel.
The event was an opportunity to introduce the Desert to Power program to potential partners and attract investors for its implementation.
Addressing the participants, including ministers from the Sahel region, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, emphasized the importance of electricity in ensuring security and reducing poverty.
“Desert to Power is a $20 billion initiative to generate 10,000 megawatts of solar power… This will be the largest solar farm in the world and so we want to turn it into a real economic activity… one that generates productive energy to be used by the countries of the Sahel,” said Adesina.
The head of the African Development Bank said the initiative had several components, including utility-scale solar generation, decentralized energy solutions, transmission and distribution, utility reform, and an efficient policy and regulatory environment to safeguard investments.
Adesina said the program would make a significant contribution to climate action by protecting a Great Green Wall against desertification and other impacts of climate change.
He also referred to the US$1 billion Sahel G5 Lending Facility approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors earlier this year, which includes US$150 million in concessional resources from the Green Climate Fund as a key facility to help reduce the risk of private sector solar projects.
The head of the bank thanked the heads of state and ministers of the various host countries for supporting the initiative.
Norway’s Minister Tvinnereim highlighted the role of renewable energy in sustainable development. “We need to make sure there is access to renewable energy and avoid old fossil emissions. To face the crisis in the region, we need the preparation of the governments of the region. We also need sustained access to renewable energy and the Desert to Power program developed by the African Development Bank responds to these critical issues.
President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger addressed the event via video link and reiterated his government’s support for the programme. The energy ministers of Mauritania and Niger, as well as high-level representatives of Desert to Power’s key partners, including Power Africa, the Swedish International Development Agency, the European Commission, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the Green Fund for Climate, ACWA Power and MASEN. They highlighted their support for the initiative.
Nganga of the Global Energy Alliance said the Alliance would also support de-risking the investment made in the Desert to Power infrastructure, as well as innovative solutions that would drive the success of the program.