African development bank launches ‘Desert to Power’ program, targeting 10 GW of solar

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African development bank (AfDB), Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Africa 50 investment fund have a signed a letter of intent to collaborate on the ‘Desert to Power’ program launched by the bank, which aims at installing 10 GW of solar, and providing electricity to 250 million people, in Africa’s Sahel region.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said with investment from the private sector, the initiative could ultimately become the world’s largest solar power zone. “The Desert to Power programme will transform countries in the Sahel region by accelerating their access to energy through solar power,” said Adesina. “To realize this ambition, strong collaboration is needed. Therefore the partnership with the Green Climate Fund and Africa 50 is a great milestone and will help us deliver at scale.”

The Sahel is a semi-arid region on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, stretching across the African continent from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. No countries or projects have been mentioned specifically thus far by AfDB, however, Green Climate Fund Executive Howard Bamsey spoke confidently of participation from the region’s governments:

“Sahel countries have identified the potential of solar power to bring green energy to people across the region,” stated Bamsey. “Renewable energy investment is a priority in their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.”

Green climate fund and the African Development Bank had previously announced a partnership for the development of solar in Africa, and the bank has financed several large-scale projects on the continent, including a 33 MW installation in Mali.