World Bank Approves $311 Million in Funding to Expand Grid-Connected Renewable Energy Capacity in West Africa.

World Bank HQ

(Credit: Canva)

by | Dec 21, 2022

World Bank HQ

(Credit: Canva)

Existing and prospective electricity customers in Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo will benefit from the new Regional Emergency Solar Power Intervention Project (RESPITE), which was recently approved for a total of $311 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing. The project includes a $20 million grant to facilitate future regional power trade and strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) to carry out its regional mandate.

The RESPITE program’s primary goals are to boost regional integration in the participating nations and quickly increase the capacity of renewable energy sources that are connected to the grid. Approximately 106 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems with battery energy and storage systems will be installed and put into operation, along with a 41-megawatt increase in hydroelectric capacity. The program will also support initiatives for electricity distribution and transmission across the four countries.

Increasing Renewable Energy in West Africa: Why Now?

In Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa has one of the lowest rates of electrification and some of the most expensive electricity rates. Additionally, rising energy costs have raised the liabilities of electricity utilities, and nations are now facing a severe power supply problem that could derail their economic expansion.

“Solutions supported by the new project are manyfold and have substantial benefits for the countries and the region. Among others, it will provide fiscal space for countries to address food crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine, initiate development of competitively tendered grid-connected clean energy to alleviate current power supply crisis, positively address climate change by helping countries to move away from expensive and polluting fuels, and help synchronize the WAPP network to enhance regional integration in the energy sector,” said Rhonda Jordan-Antoine, World Bank Task Team Leader of the project.

The project has created a regional strategy to increase the potential of power commerce in West Africa, in addition to enhancing the dependability of electricity supply in each of the beneficiary countries.

“RESPITE provides benefits that spill over country boundaries and complements existing regional integration efforts in the energy sector involving all member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)”, says Ms. Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa. “It provides economies of scale, increases potential for regional trade through investments in transmission and generation infrastructure to integrate the markets physically, and develops regional public good by facilitating knowledge sharing and capacity building.”

The new project is a component of the World Bank Group‘s response to the energy crisis in West Africa, which aims to expedite the emergency deployment of more renewable energy sources in the area. The initiative will encourage global private developers to invest in smaller, more vulnerable economies and will highlight the feasibility of grid-connected solar energy and battery storage in competitively tendered countries.

International Development Association

The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the impoverished. It was founded in 1960 and provides grants and low to no-interest loans for projects and programs that promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve the lives of the poor. IDA is one of the world’s largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources have improved the lives of the 1.6 billion individuals who reside in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged $21 billion over the last three years, with roughly 61% going to Africa.

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