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Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Sep 13 2019 - The Desert to Power initiative is an ambitious and innovative partnership-driven initiative of the African Development Bank to transform the Sahel and Sahara region through the deployment of solar technologies, at scale, in eleven countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.
Desert to Power is implemented in partnership with various financial and technical partners, such as the Agence Française de Développement, Africa 50, the Green Climate Fund, MASEN and GOGLA, among others.
What is the focus of the Desert to Power initiative in the G5 Sahel?
The Bank has placed an initial focus on the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), targeting a 1.1 GW increase in generation capacity and the 60 million people who currently lack access to electricity in the region.
The Bank has identified five priority action areas for the G5 Sahel. One, expand utility-scale solar generation capacity, two, extend and strengthen the power transmission network, three, accelerate electrification through decentralized energy solutions, four, revitalize national power utilities; and five, improve the business climate for increased private sector investments. Capacity building is a cross-cutting component of this initiative, in order to reinforce the impact of mobilized resources. At the G5 Summit, the Bank will request the support of the G5 Sahel leaders and partners to progress with realization of these priorities.
I am delighted that this G5 summit is taking place in Burkina Faso, which is home to the first project developed under the Desert to Power initiative: the Yeleen Rural Electrification Project, which is a multi-million-dollar investment by the African Development Bank, in partnership with the European Union and the Green Climate Fund.
What is unique and transformative about the Desert to Power initiative? What are its expected impacts?
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.
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.
For example, the Yeleen project will use decentralized photovoltaic solar systems to generate 22.6MW through a network of 100 mini power plants, or mini-grids, and turnkey units. In addition to supplying electricity to 100,000 households for 16 hours a day, the project will create over 700 jobs and impact agriculture, entrepreneurship, and industry.
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