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Leaders launch West African group for ‘bankable energy investment projects’

Cote d’Ivoire’s president Alassane Ouattara has led West African leaders in launching an initiative to reform energy sector policies and create “a pipeline of bankable investment projects” to boost access to sustainable energy throughout the region.07 Jul 2015

Ouattara was joined by Nigerian vice-president Yemi Osibajo and the prime ministers of Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Mali, Niger and Togo for the launch of the West African Energy Leaders Group in Abidjan on 30 June.

Ivorian prime minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said the group will “focus on accelerating implementation of suitable projects by bringing together public and private-sector actors to mobilise finance”. “The emphasis will be on practical, appropriate measures that will contribute to the creation of a favourable environment for investment,” he said.

According to the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) vice-president for infrastructure, private sector and regional integration, Solomon Asamoah, the group has identified “a range of priority projects at both regional and national level for its first year”.

Asamoah said the projects fall into three “main categories” including hydroelectric power, “securing regular gas supplies for power generation in Cote d’Ivoire” and “tapping the huge potential” for solar power in the Sahel zone.

The AfDB said the group is the first “regional branch” of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), which was unveiled during the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and is endorsed by the UN Development Programme, the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union.

The AELG secretariat will be hosted by the AfDB’s Sustainable Energy for AAll (SE4All) Africa hub, an initiative launched by the UN in 2011 to achieve three goals by 2030 – ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global mix.

Estimates from the AfDB suggest funding of around $42 billion per year will be needed to meet Africa’s energy demand by 2040, “including a tenfold increase in private investment over current levels”. However, the bank said “significant barriers exist, notably the lack of public policies that create the right conditions for such investment, and a shortage of suitable projects”.

“Sub-Saharan Africa, where 600 million people live without electricity, has the lowest level of energy access in the world, and West Africa has the highest levels of energy poverty on the continent,” the bank said. “Electricity and clean cooking facilities are fundamental building-blocks for prosperity and well-being, from basic health and education to industrial and agricultural development.”

Earlier this year, the bank welcomed the launch of the African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) as an example of how private investment can be channelled to a key development sector. AREF, a dedicated renewable energy fund focused on sub-Saharan Africa, closed on 12 March with $100m of committed capital to support small- to medium-scale independent power producers.

In February, a $1.9 billion “pan-African renewable energy generation platform” was launched to boost electricity production across the region within the next three years through investments in new wind and solar plants.

A recent report published by the World Bank (173-page / 6.19 MB PDF) said mining companies could play a key role in harnessing Africa’s “abundant clean sources of energy” to overcome energy supply shortages and develop the region’s power infrastructure.

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