SEATTLE, Washington — Hundreds of millions of people living in Africa do not have access to electricity. Brookings estimated in 2016 that less than 45% of Africa’s population has power, placing the entire continent in an energy crisis. Electricity brings computers to help education, lighting to allow for safety, appliances to cook and store food and so much more. The African Development Bank Group has been an instrumental agency in proposing solutions to bring power to the many Africans who need it.
Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa
Support to end Africa’s energy crisis from the African Development Bank Group started all the way back in 2011 with the creation of the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA). As the title suggests, this fund is centered around finding sustainable energy solutions rather than constantly relying on fossil fuels. While any power to Africa would be an improvement, creating an entire separate funding project to revolve around industries such as solar and wind power will help catapult Africans. Some of the world’s most powerful nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Spain, Denmark and Sweden, have all joined in contributing to SEFA.
Prior to the New Deal on Energy for Africa, SEFA was the African Development Bank Group’s main focus. During this time, Africa developed a Green Mini-Grid (GMG) which is a small-scale electrical grid provided to less developed regions, that run solely on green-friendly production. Creating GMGs allowed rural areas in Africa to finally be included in efforts to bring Africa power. What started as a project funded by SEFA has blossomed into a hub of activity as many GMG-centric nonprofits have emerged to create even more of these grids. Additionally, an entire GMG Market Development Program has materialized to try and obtain both private and public sector support for these essential mini-grids.
New Deal on Energy for Africa
With an entire continent in need of power, the magnitude of the issue makes any solution difficult. While SEFA proved to be effective and rewarding, the program’s GMG model had limitations. Africans need power and it is impossible to successfully energize the continent with complete independence from fossil fuels, thus giving way to the New Deal on Energy for Africa. This groundbreaking five-step approach requires accountability from Africa and requires international help. Part of this plan called for a “Transformative Partnership on Energy” (TPE) which began in 2016. This new partnership involves public and private sectors, commercialized energy providers, international countries and engineers. Through competition and cooperation, the TPE is going to pull the best that every group has to offer to reach Africa’s energy goals.
Country Collaboration for Energy Crisis
One other important facet of the New Deal on Energy for Africa is communication and policy building with the many governments of Africa. With the issue extending far past any political border, the solution is going to require everyone to buy-in. That means that equal funding, resources and cooperation is vital to energize Africa. Part of the African Development Bank Group’s strategy is to ensure countries are contributing through leading by example. It has put its money where its mouth is by contributing $12 billion every year since 2016. Billion-dollar donations have come from nations like the United States and the United Kingdom. Helping to alleviate Africa’s energy crisis will open the door to so many more international economic connections and markets. Powering Africa is one of the easiest ways to reimagine the economic capabilities of the region.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
All in all, the African Development Bank Group’s plans provide hope to many Africans living in the dark. On a brochure covering its goals, the bank group cites that it will “Increase on-grid transmission and grid connections that will create 130 million new connections by 2025, 160% more than today.” If achieved, Africa’s energy crisis, which has plagued the continent for decades, will be solved largely due in part to the African Development Bank Group.
– Zachary Hardenstine