African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina believes that a lot more needs to be done in Africa, given the continent’s energy potential and the huge needs to be met. Energy is thus at the top of the AfDB’s five major priorities, with the energy and climate change theme highlighted at both the bank’s 2016 yearly meetings and in its 2015 annual report.
Available data indicates that over 640-million people in Africa, more than half of the continent’s population, do not have access to electricity. This situation persists despite the fact that the continent is endowed with inexhaustible raw energy potential, Adesina points out.
“Africa is blessed with limitless potential for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy resources. We must unlock Africa’s energy potential – both conventional and renewable. Unlocking the huge energy potential of Africa, for Africa, will be a major focus of the bank.”
The AfDB’s current energy portfolio hovers around $11-billion, with lending to energy sector projects (public and private) exceeding a yearly $1-billion in recent years. Over three-quarters of the energy portfolio supports public-sector projects. The portfolio largely comprises generation projects, as well as distribution projects, and support for regional energy interconnections.
In September last year, the bank articulated a New Deal on Energy for Africa and launched the Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa to light up and power Africa by 2025. The goal is to add 160 GW of new generation capacity through the existing grid, deliver 130-million new grid and 75-million new off-grid connections.
Adesina believes that the new deal will play a catalytic role in accelerating the pace of structural transformation in the energy sector.
This will also enhance inclusive green growth in Africa and unlock the potential for industrialisation and wealth creation. Further, it will drive agricultural transformation and regional power pooling to integrate Africa, create jobs and ultimately improve the quality of life for Africans.
He put all of these in perspective when he presented the New Deal on Energy for Africa, and launched a Transformative Partnership on Energy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 20 this year.
In his address, he cited the inclusion of energy in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 to underscore the importance of energy to society and as a key priority for the bank.
The new deal, he said, sets the ambitious target of universal access to energy by 2025. This means bringing modern energy to 900-million people in sub-Saharan Africa, including those who do not have access and anticipating population growth. It also implies a step change in the way that the bank, African countries, development partners and the private sector approach the energy sector on the continent.
“To succeed, we must work together. . . Hence, the AfDB is working with governments, the private sector, and bilateral and multilateral agencies – several of whom are represented here – to develop a Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa. This will provide a platform for public–private partnerships for innovative financing for Africa’s energy sector,” Adesina concluded.