600 million Africans lack access to electricity

President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, and President of the World Bank, Ajay Banga Picture Source: Vanguard

…situation creating barriers to health care, education, productivity, digital inclusivity

Approximately 600 million Africans lack access to electricity and this unfortunate situation is creating significant barriers to health care, education, productivity, digital inclusivity, and ultimately job creation.

It is therefore in this regard that the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) are partnering to provide electricity access to at least 300 million people in Africa by 2030.

This was disclosed following the meeting of World Bank President, Ajay Banga, and his AfDB counterpart, Dr Akinwumi Adesina recently.

It was revealed that the World Bank Group would work to connect 250 million people to electricity through distributed renewable energy systems or the distribution grid. The AfDB, on the other hand, will support an additional 50 million people.

“Access to electricity is a fundamental human right and is foundational to any successful development effort,” the Bretton Wood institution said on its website.

Speaking on the project, Banga said, “Electricity access is the bedrock of all development. It is a critical ingredient for economic growth and essential for job creation at scale. Our aspiration will only be realized with partnership and ambition”

According to him, it would require a policy action from governments, financing from multilateral development banks, and private sector investment to see this through.

This partnership is a demonstration of the determination of the World Bank Group and the AfDB Group to be bolder, bigger, and better in tackling one of the most pressing challenges in Africa.

The initiative is the most recent manifestation of the World Bank Group’s commitment to become more impact-oriented and is the byproduct of a concerted work plan to build a better bank.

It is aided by a constellation of regional energy programs that would now be aligned toward this common goal.

For the World Bank Group to connect 250 million people, $30 billion of public sector investment will be required, of which IDA, the World Bank’s concessional arm for low-income countries, would be critical.

In addition, governments will need to put in place policies to attract private investment, and reform their utilities so they are financially sound and efficient with tariff mechanisms that protect the poor.

Connecting 250 million people to electricity would open private sector investment opportunities in distributed renewable energy alone worth $9 billion, World Bank said.

Beyond that, there would be substantial opportunities for private investments in grid-connected renewable energy needed to power economies for growth.

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