The President of African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina had set down a new agenda for the bank group in September 2015. He outlined the five development priorities for the institution which were called in short ‘High 5s’. The ‘High 5s’ are – Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. These focus areas were said to be essential in transforming the lives of the African people and therefore consistent with the United Nations agenda on Sustainable Development Goals.
Launched on September 13 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, ‘Desert to Power’ initiative will mark a major milestone. Operational Declination of the New Energy Pact in the Sahelo-Saharan region, ‘Desert to power’ is a program of regional integration through energy. From Chad to Burkina Faso, via Sudan, Djibouti, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Eritrea and Niger, some 250 million people are expected to have access to electricity after the implementation of this initiative. To succeed, the Bank and its partners have set a goal of installing 1.1 gigawatt of solar capacity by 2030.
After mobilizing development partners, including the Green Climate Fund and the European Union, and encouraging companies from the continent as well as financial partners (French Development Agency, World Bank, Power Africa, Green Climate Fund) to accompany the On the initiative, the African Development Bank (AfDB) chief Akinwumi Adesina, will be able to count on the strong support of African heads of state, beginning with those of the G5 Sahel meeting in the Burkinabé capital.
If 2016 marked the first achievements of the ‘High 5’, the year 2017 saw their consolidation, and 2018 their take-off. The African Development Bank’s program is ambitious in terms of economic, agricultural, social and structural development. From improving transport between states to connecting to power grids for millions of Africans, to agricultural innovations, the continent has made significant progress.
According to the Annual Review of Development Effectiveness (2019 Edition), AfDB installed 480 kilometers of transmission lines last year and 2,430 kilometers of distribution lines. As a result, some 570,000 people benefited from electricity. The institution has also financed large-scale renewable energy projects, such as the Lake Turkana wind farm in Kenya or the Ouarzazate solar power plant in Morocco.
The ‘Desert to Power’ program consists in revitalizing the national electricity companies in the countries concerned and accelerating the deployment of solar generation by financing solar parks. This will be the case for the Djermaya solar power plant (28 Megawatt) in Chad, which will supply nearly 25,000 households and reduce the country’s dependence on diesel.
The electrification through off-grid solutions, conducted with the deployment of decentralized solar solutions, will enable the establishment of 100 mini-grids and 100,000 solar kits to provide electricity to 700,000 people in Burkina Faso.
The ‘Desert to Power’ initiative presents tremendous potential for transformative impact. By enabling the region to harness its solar potential – which is the highest in the world – for sustainable social and economic development, the Desert to Power initiative would ultimately create the largest solar zone in the world, said Wale Shonibare, Acting VP, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
That said, ‘Desert to Power’ is not just about energy: it is also about the impact that energy has on the social and economic development of the region, from enhanced agricultural practices for productive use and food security, to upgraded manufacturing value chains, more opportunities for youth employment, and sustainable mitigation actions to combat desertification, added Wale Shonibare.