ADDIS ABABA — The African Development Fund, a concessional arm of the African Development Bank (AfDB, approved a $5.5 million technical assistance grant to kick-start the roll-out of the Desert to Power initiative in four Sahelian states – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The initiative will develop technical studies for regional solar parks and associated battery storage near regional energy interconnectors, high-voltage cables that connect the electricity systems in the countries, according to the AfDB.
The technical assistance “will accelerate the roll-out of the Desert to Power initiative in the eastern Sahel,” said Daniel Schroth, head of the Energy Efficiency Department of the Bank.
“As a result, the region will move one step closer to harnessing its tremendous solar energy potential to spur accelerated economic and social development,” Schroth added.
The initiative, fully named the East Africa Regional Energy Project, will also strengthen the technical capacity of the implementing agency, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a trade bloc in the sub region.
IGAD Executive Secretary, Workneh Gebeyehu, described the Desert to Power project as “timely in this post-Covid-19 era, which clearly highlighted the importance of reliable energy services.”
“It is an important milestone in addressing renewable energy investment gaps in the region,” said Workeneh
In July, 2021, the Bank approved a similar fund to the West Africa Regional Energy Project which aims to accelerate socioeconomic development through the deployment of solar technologies at scale in the Sahel region.
The program plans to ultimately add 10 GW of solar generation capacity and provide electricity to around 250 million people in the 11 Sahelian countries by 2030, according to the AfDB.
Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan are part of the Sahel region of the continent.