Electricity and Control January 2023


Rallying support for the Desert to Power initiative

T he initiative to increase solar generation capacity across Africa’s Sahel region to provide 250 million people with access to electricity for socio-economic development continues to attract financial support from around the world. Launched in 2019 by the African Development Bank Group and its partners, the Desert to Power initiative is designed to make Africa a renewable energy powerhouse. Desert to Power will develop and provide 10 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030 across 11 countries where 64% of the population lives without electricity – with consequences for education, health and business. The project will positively impact the countries of the Sahel region: Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. At an event held during the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in November last year, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), represented by its Executive Director for Africa, Joseph Nganga, announced US$35 million in support of the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) for the initiative. SEFA is a special fund created to provide catalytic finance to unlock private sector investments in renewable energy. Norway’s Minister for International Development, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, announced a contribution of 300 million Norwegian kroner (around US$29 million) from the Norwegian government to support SEFA. The event – organised by the African Development Bank in the Africa Pavilion at COP27 and 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 further facilitate private sector investments in the Sahel. It provided an opportunity to present the Desert to Power programme to potential partners and to rally investors to support its implementation. Addressing participants, including ministers from the

Sahel region, African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina emphasised the importance of electricity in ensuring security and reducing poverty. “Desert to Power is a $20 billion initiative to deliver 10 000 megawatts of solar power. It will be the largest solar zone in the world and we therefore want to turn this into a real economic activity, that will generate productive energy to be used by the countries across the Sahel,” Adesina said. He added that the initiative has several components, including utility-scale solar generation, decentralised energy solutions, transmission and distribution, utility reform, and an efficient policy and regulatory environment to safeguard investments. Adesina said the programme would contribute significantly to climate action by protecting the Great Green Wall against desertification and other climate change impacts. He also referred to the US$1 billion Sahel G5 Financing 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 de-risk private sector solar projects. The bank chief thanked the heads of state and ministers from the various host countries for supporting the initiative. Minister Tvinnereim of Norway highlighted the role of renewable energy in sustainable development. “We need to make sure there is access to renewable energy and prevent fossil fuel emissions. To tackle the crisis in the region, we need the readiness of the governments of the region. We also need sustained access to renewable energy and the Desert to Power programme, developed by the African Development Bank, responds to these critical issues.” President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger addressed the event via video link, reiterating his government’s support for the programme. The energy ministers of Mauritania and Niger, as well as senior representatives from key Desert to Power partners – including Power Africa, the Swedish International Development Agency, the European Commission, the International Renewable Energy Agency,

the Green Climate Fund, ACWA Power and MASEN – reaffirmed their support for the initiative. Nganga from the Global Energy Alliance said the alliance would also support the de-risking of investment made in the Desert to Power infrastructure as well as innovative solutions that would drive the programme to succeed.

For more information visit: www.afdb.org

At COP27 the African Development Bank rallied partners to support the Desert to Power initiative to bring energy access to the Sahel.

32 Electricity + Control JANUARY 2023

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