Mauritania and Mali to Get Solar Power Boost from African Development Fund

The project will connect 100,000 households to clean and affordable energy and create opportunities for young people and women.

by Motoni Olodun

The African Development Fund (ADF) has approved a loan of nearly $303 million to support a project that will connect 100,000 households across Mauritania and Mali to solar power. The project is part of the Desert to Power initiative, which aims to harness the solar potential of the Sahel region and provide clean and affordable energy to millions of people.

The project will establish a high-voltage electrical interconnection over 1,373 kilometers, with a 600 megawatt (MW) transfer capacity between the two countries. It will also build a 50 MW solar power plant in Kiffa, Mauritania, and connect 100,000 new households to the power grid in the areas crossed by the cable. The project will create opportunities for young people and women to establish agricultural and service businesses.

The Desert to Power initiative, launched in 2019 by the African Development Bank Group, is designed to exploit the solar power potential of 11 countries in the Sahel. It aims to increase solar power production capacity by 10 gigawatts between now and 2030, through public and private, on and off-grid projects. The project will provide 250 million people with access to electricity, including 90 million who will be connected for the first time.

The project is aligned with the regional roadmap approved by the countries that will benefit from the initiative. It is also the first section of the trans-Sahel spine, which will link Mauritania to Chad via Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. The interconnection will enable the development of new renewable power plants, whose production will be more closely integrated into interconnected grids. This will facilitate access to a high-quality, low-carbon electricity supply at an affordable price.

Malinne Blomberg, the Bank Group’s Deputy Director General for North Africa and head of the Bank’s Country Office in Mauritania, commended the Malian and Mauritanian governments for supporting the Bank in the project’s preparation. She said: “This is an inclusive, sustainable project that translates into reality our policy of supporting the development of green infrastructure in Africa. It will also have an impact on promoting both the private sector and trade, and creating job opportunities.”

Adalbert Nshimyumuremyi, head of the Bank’s Country Office in Mali, said the approval represents the Bank’s commitment to supporting African countries’ development. “Permanent access to a high-quality electricity supply at an affordable cost will strengthen the resilience of populations in the beneficiary areas,” he said, adding that the project will be implemented in Mali’s Kayes region and will benefit 500,000 inhabitants, including 20,000 households in the 50 areas that will be connected to the grid.

The project is expected to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation. It will also help improve the security and stability of the region, as access to energy is a key factor for economic and social development.

The project is co-financed by other partners, including climate funds, and has a total cost of $888 million. The ADF loan comprises $269.6 million for Mauritania and $33.3 million for Mali.

The ADF is the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group, which provides grants and low-interest loans to low-income countries in Africa. The ADF is one of the main sources of funding for the Desert to Power initiative, along with other instruments of the Bank Group.

Source: Zawya

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