27 June 2017
Africa Energy Forum, World Bank Investments Seek to Improve Energy Access
UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz
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The Africa Energy Forum was held 7-9 June in Copenhagen, Denmark to foster partnerships and investment in African energy generation and distribution.

During the Forum major donors committed to raise at least US$500 million for development projects.

The World Bank announced funding for projects to improve access to electricity in several countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

19 June 2017: According to the UN Secretary General’s Report on Progress towards the SDGs, progress in every area of sustainable energy falls short of what is needed to achieve energy access for all and to meet targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Recent events and energy infrastructure investments announced by the World Bank show that efforts are underway to accelerate implementation of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy).

According to UN Secretary General’s Report on Progress towards the SDGs, 1.06 billion people, predominantly rural dwellers, still function without electricity. Half of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa. The report indicates that access to clean fuels for cooking only increased by 0.9% between 2012 and 2014. On increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix, the report underlines that the challenge is to “increase the share of renewable energy in the heat and transport sectors, which together account for 80% of global energy consumption.” [UN Secretary General Report on Progress towards the SDGs]

Recent developments in Africa, Asia and the Pacific have sought to accelerate implementation of SDG 7.

Africa Energy Forum

One such initiative is the yearly Africa Energy Forum, a global investment meeting for Africa’s power, energy, infrastructure and industrial sectors. The 2017 edition of the Forum was held from 7-9 June in Copenhagen, Denmark. Attended by more than 2000 participants representing governments, utilities, regulators, power developers, financial institutions, technology providers, consultants, law firms and large energy consumers, the event aimed to support the creation of partnerships and the identification of opportunities for investment by international donors and the private sector.

During the Africa Energy Forum, the World Bank launched a report titled ‘Linking Up: Public Private Partnerships in Power Transmission in Africa.’

During the Conference, the African Legal Support Facility (ASLF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) held a brainstorming session with organizations active in energy development, including the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEP), the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation and ElectriFI. The participating organizations committed to: collaborate in raising between US$500 and 800 million in funding for development projects addressing issues within their intersecting mandates; create an informal network; and meet regularly to develop harmonized calls for proposals and conduct joint advocacy initiatives.

USTDA also announced a partnership with Standard Microgrid, a company providing components for micro-utility networks, to deploy distributed solar power services in Zambia. [Africa Energy Forum Press Release] [Africa Energy Forum Website][AfDB Press Release Forum Opening, 8 June] [AfDB Press Release Brainstorming Session, 19 June]

Also during the Africa Energy Forum, the World Bank launched a report titled ‘Linking Up: Public Private Partnerships in Power Transmission in Africa,’ which explores how models of private sector-led investments in energy transmission infrastructure observed in other regions could be applied in sub-Saharan Africa. The publication outlines Africa’s needs for transmission investment and approaches to financing, including private finance. It reviews case studies of successful private finance in other countries, including Brazil, Chile, India, Peru and the Philippines, and provides recommendations how these approaches can be adapted to specific local conditions in African countries. The report underlines that Africa is lagging behind other regions regarding transmission investment, and calls on governments to adopt policies that are supportive of a private sector financing strategy. [World Bank Press Release, 6 June] [Report Abstract] [Linking Up: Public Private Partnerships in Power Transmission in Africa]

World Bank Invests in Energy Distribution

In other energy-related news, the World Bank also announced funding for several projects aiming to increase access to clean energy in several countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

The World Bank will also support the Government of Djibouti in realizing its commitment to achieve universal electricity access by 2035. The Bank launched a US$23.3 million ‘Sustainable Electrification Program’ aiming to connect 14,000 of the country’s poorest households to the electricity grid, thus providing power to up to 100,000 people. The project includes the expansion of a medium voltage grid, established by a previous project, into Djibouti’s rural areas, and to electrify the largest slum area of the country’s capital. [World Bank Press Release, 4 June] [Djibouti: Sustainable Electrification Program Project Webpage]

In Mongolia, the World Bank will provide US$ 54.4 million to support efforts to modernize the country’s obsolete and inefficient distribution networks. Insufficient capacity and outdated infrastructure are responsible for distribution losses of up to 25% in some regions of Mongolia. The project finances infrastructure upgrades and expansion of capacity as well as the scaling up of renewable energy generation. The project includes financing for a 10MW solar power plant that will allow western Mongolia to become more independent from energy imports.[World Bank Press Release, 15 June]

In Vanuatu, the World Bank will support a rural electrification project through its Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program. The Bank will provide US$4 million to partially subsidize the installation of home solar and micro-grid systems which will provide electricity for up to 45,000 people. [World Bank Press Release, 31 May]

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