The African Development Bank is set to unveil its power plan that will see 29.3 million people in the continent get connected to power by 2020. The bank is investing heavily in ways to help the estimated 640 million Africans who lack access to energy, as well as protecting them against climate risks.
As part of its Desert to Power initiative, the bank sees a pivotal role for solar power in this ambitious plan by building 10,000MW of new capacity in the 1,000km Sahel region, close to the Sahara desert. This project could eventually provide electricity for up to 250 million people, with 90 million currently living off-grid.
The President of the Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, made the announcement this week at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Development of solar power systems
“We have already started with the development of a 50 MW solar power system in Burkina Faso. The initiative will protect the Great Green Wall of trees against desertification in the Sahelian zone. When completed, we expect this to be the largest solar power system zone in the world”, he said.
Mr. Adesina went on to comment that the bank’s support provided 3.8 million Africans with electricity last year and that the goal of almost 30 million is achievable through appropriate financing.
The president also called on the international community to co-pay for climate insurance for vulnerable African countries at risk of extreme weather events. It is already planning to commit US $76 million in the coming year towards insurance premiums.
The bank is similarly increasing its climate resiliency efforts, tripling financing in this area over the next couple of years to protect fragile ecosystems. This includes US $101m to help restore Lake Chad’s seriously depleted ecosystem; and US $281m for programs in the Horn of Africa.