How to turn the desert into a source of energy?

Boubacar Diallo

The ambition of the African Development Bank is to connect 29.3 million Africans to electricity by 2020. To do so, it has just launched the Desert to Power initiative, which aims to install per 10,000 MW of solar electricity in the Sahel. Enough to power 250 million people, including 90 million with off-grid systems.
In 2017, 3.8 million Africans were connected to electricity. A figure that Akinwumi Adesina welcomes, even if the president of the African Development Bank (ADB) wants to do even better. “We are today at the forefront of renewable energy investments in Africa. Their share in the African Development Bank’s energy portfolio went from 14% when I became president in 2015, to 100% last year, “he said recently, stating that,” for we have the financing, we plan to connect 29.3 million people to electricity between 2018 and 2020 “. Ambitious objectives that logically fit into the main development policy of the continent, theorized by the ADB in its High 5, the five top priorities to accelerate the economic transformation of Africa. One of them is indeed to “enlighten Africa and supply energy.” And to do this, what better than using a source of energy available in abundance: the sun.


From desert to energy abundance

The AfDB has therefore launched the Desert to Power initiative, the principle of which is simple: to use the potential of the vast desert lands now neglected. Launched with the support of the French Development Agency, this program concerns eleven countries, namely Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. If its main purpose is to provide electricity to households, it will also be useful to farmers (especially for irrigation) or to artisans.

In the coming years, the program already plans to install solar systems with a total capacity of 10,000 MW. “We have already started to develop a 50 MW solar power plant in Burkina Faso,” said Akinwumi Adesina. Thus, 250 million people can be connected to electricity, including 90 million via off-grid systems (that is to say, through small solar power plants on an individual scale, efficient and cheap). “This initiative will protect the Great Green Wall,” a planted tree plant to stop desertification in the Sahelian zone, in which poor households regularly use their stoves to source firewood. “Once completed, this area of ​​solar energy systems should be the largest in the world,” concludes the president of the African Development Bank.

La Tribune Afrique

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