Energy and climate change will be the central theme of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) 2016 annual meetings, with “lighting up and powering Africa” a top priority.
The AfDB said data indicated more than half of Africa’s population does not have access to electricity, despite the continent’s raw energy potential. Bank president Akinwumi Adesina said energy was “the lifeblood of any society and the passport to economic transformation”.
The issue will be discussed over a series of meetings taking place in May in Lusaka, Zambia.
The bank’s current energy portfolio is around $11bn, with lending to energy sector projects recently exceeding $1bn annually. More than three-quarters of the energy portfolio supports public sector projects. The portfolio is mainly made up of generation projects, distribution projects and support for regional energy interconnections.
Among the projects the AfDB is financing is the first phase of Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate concentrated solar power complex and South Africa’s Medupi Power Station Project.
In Central Africa, there are plans to build the Inga III dam along with the Grand Inga continental hydro power station on the Congo River, with the potential to generate half of Africa’s current installed electricity capacity, the bank said.
In East Africa, Ethiopia has invested in a series of hydropower dams, while the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project will be one of the largest wind farms in Africa.
Adesina said more needed to be done. “Africa is blessed with limitless potential for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy resources,” he said. “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.”
At Davos in January the AfBD launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa, which sets targets to increase access to energy.