Africa’s Sahel region is sitting on a goldmine when it comes to renewable energy, the African Development Bank said on Tuesday at COP24. The Bank noted that at a time when about 600 million Africans are without electricity, stable economies can be built by harnessing solar energy.
Astrid Manroth, Director of Delivery and Impact at the African Development Bank, told a press conference on the sidelines of the Climate Summit in Katowice Poland that the African Development Bank has put energy in Africa at the top of its priorities.
“Particularly the integration of renewable energy does require stable grids and available grids for transmission and distribution to the end customers,”. Manroth explained.
“We are working with utilities to strengthen the distribution networks, there is quite a nice example especially Kenya where we have partnered with utility where we strengthen the last mile energy connection within 600 meters of all substations.”
She added that ”Renewable energy is a priority in their(the Sahel region) Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.”
With the Desert to Power Initiative, the Bank is collaborating in an innovative approach to catalyze solar investments from both the public and especially the private sector and institutional investors. This form of blended finance is intended to help fill in the shortfalls in capital resources manifested in renewable energy project cycle in Africa.
The Initiative aims to develop 10GW of solar energy across the Sahel region by 2025, which could provide access to renewable electricity to over 250 million people, thereby solving many of the region’s energy access challenges.
By tapping into one of the world’s largest sources of solar power, this traditionally underdeveloped region could be dramatically transformed. The African Development Bank has partnered with the Green Climate Fund to see the project come to life.