The Desert to Power programme, initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to provide electricity to 250 million people in the Sahel region, was the subject of a special session Tuesday at the Africa Investment Forum 2019, held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The panel session on Investing in the Sun: The Desert to Power Initiative was moderated by Wale Shonibare, Vice President of the AfDB in charge of energy.
“The largest solar zone in the world is in the Sahel. We want to catalyse the investments to realise this programme, of which the African Development Bank is the leader,” said Shonibare.
According to him, it is necessary to raise resources to succeed this programme, which represents an opportunity of 10,000MW of electricity production, from Chad to Burkina Faso, via Sudan through Djibouti, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Niger and Eritrea.
Ignacio Pérez-Arriaga, director of energy training at the Regulatory School in Florence, said it is “an excellent programme, which one needs, but it remains “a difficult program: it will require significant investments for the implementation of regulations and the transport of the energy produced. If we want it to work, we need to determine how to allocate costs, set up a planning authority, deal with contracts and security of supply. It is possible but it is a real challenge.”
Desert to Power will allow access to clean energy
With Desert to Power, Paloma Perez de Vega emphasised that the AfDB is tackling “one of the crucial problems in the Sahel: this initiative will allow access to clean energy, which is a solution for that these countries achieve the goals of sustainable development.”
It recommended a good preparation of contractual frameworks, the preparation of bankable projects and the setting up of open and transparent tenders, noted Perez de Vega.
“Solar is a big part of the solution to enable people to access electricity. This programme is ambitious! It will be necessary to take into account the questions of the transport and the sale of energy, very important points in its realization,” aaid Gareth Walsh, head of the governance team of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
Shonibare concluded: “There is $140 million to be raised to prepare the programme. We will set up a work team to identify priorities. Its secretariat will be based in Abidjan. We are working with partners able to carry out the programme.
He further revealed the name of the chairman of the working group; Mustapha Bakkoury, CEO of Masen Morocco.