Development finance institution the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) concessional African Development Fund (ADF) has approved a $5.5-million technical assistance grant to kickstart the roll-out of the flagship Desert to Power initiative in the Eastern Sahel region countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.
This East Africa Regional Energy Project will develop technical studies for regional solar parks and associated battery storage near regional energy interconnectors – high-voltage cables that connect the electricity systems of neighbouring countries.
The initiative will also strengthen the technical capacity of the implementing agency, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a trade bloc that includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the Great Lakes region.
The project will be financed through the ADF-15 Regional Public Good window of the ADF.
“This Desert to Power project is timely in this post-Covid-19 era, which highlighted the importance of reliable energy services. It has also come at a time when IGAD is planning to take its Regional Infrastructure Master Plan in the energy sector to real implementation,” IGAD executive secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu says.
“The Desert to Power project is an important milestone in addressing renewable energy investment gaps in the region and will reduce the adverse effects of climate change and diversify the energy mix leading to energy security,” he notes.
The East Africa Regional Energy Project follows the approval of the West Africa Regional Energy Project in July 2021.
The Desert to Power programme is a flagship renewable energy and economic development initiative led by the AfDB that aims to accelerate socio-economic development through the deployment of solar technologies at scale in the 11 countries of the Sahel region, namely Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.
Desert to Power will ultimately add 10 GW of solar generation capacity and provide electricity to about 250-million people in 11 Sahelian countries by 2030. This aligns with one of the AfDB’s High 5 strategic priorities, namely light up and power Africa.
“The approval of this regional technical assistance programme will accelerate the roll-out of the Desert to Power initiative in the eastern Sahel. As a result, the region will move one step closer to harnessing its tremendous solar energy potential to spur accelerated economic and social development,” says AfDB Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Department acting director Dr Daniel Schroth.