Tom Wilson in Nairobi
Renewable energy, particularly solar power, is the key to driving economic development in Africa and combating climate change, the president of the African Development Bank said, whilst committing to $25 billion in new climate financing between 2020 and 2025
“Africa has 11 terawatts of solar power potential: that’s the largest we find anywhere in the world” Akinwumi Adesina told the Financial Times on the sidelines of the One Planet Summit in Nairobi.
Since Mr Adesina was appointed president of the African Development Bank in 2015 the multilateral lender has increased the renewable power share of its energy portfolio to 95 per cent from 59 per cent and says it will continue to drive capital towards green energy projects.
“I believe that the future is renewable energy and as the head of the African Development Bank I should not be investing in the past, I have to be investing in the future,” Mr Adesina said
The AfDB last year closed funding on the Yeleen rural electrification project in Burkina Faso, the first stage in a planned $10 billion investment to build the largest solar zone in the world across the semi-arid Sahel region where drought and deforestation are leading to famine and migration.
“We want a zone that will protect the great green wall” he said referring to the central African forests that butts up against the Sahel and prevents further desertification. “If there is no access to electricity and very little access to clean-cooking energy that great green wall is going to be a pile of charcoal.”
The AfDB also launched a new facility to provide concessional finance to projects that can help countries to deliver baseload power with renewable energy sources. Many countries still rely on fossil fuels to provide the baseload power required to run the grid.
“We want countries to transition from coal into green energy, but in a way that can allow them at the same time to have baseload power that can run industries” Mr Adesina said. “We have to make sure that as countries transition we provide them with green alternatives.”
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