Under the “Desert to Power” initiative, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has allocated a grant of $5 million which will be released under the bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa. The fund will be utilised for developing the technical component of the initiative with the focus on the G5 Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. The fund will also aim to address the bottlenecks in the deployment of large-scale solar projects and enable bankable projects for future investment. The initiative aims to develop 10 GW which will supply 60 million people across the G5 Sahel countries.
The G5 Sahel countries do not have sufficient installed renewable energy generation capacity and still depend heavily on imported fossil fuels. Their national grids, too, are also not equipped to deal with large volumes of intermittent power. The AfDB funds will be utilised to conduct finance technical studies for the integration of intermittent renewable energy into national grids, feasibility studies for the hybridisation of solar power generation systems in existing isolated grids, and capacity for its national electricity grid. In July 2020, the consortium formed by Aldwich International, Smart Energies, and InfraCo Africa, launched the implementation of its first phase where it would develop 32 MWp of capacity.
In December 2020, AfDB approved $7 million under the Sustainable Energy Fund to develop mini-grids in Africa. The first phase of the project could lead to 880,000 new electricity access connections and the creation of 7200 jobs.