Electricity supply in Africa is currently inadequate, but the situation is set to improve by 2030 thanks to a new initiative.
Photo: © Tolu Owoeye/Shutterstock.com

New initiative to provide 300 million people in Africa with electricity access

A World Bank Group/African Development Bank initiative could halve the number of people in Africa living without electricity access.

The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank Group are partnering on an ambitious effort to provide at least 300 million people in Africa with electricity access by 2030.

The World Bank Group is to work to connect 250 million people to electricity through distributed renewable energy systems or the distribution grid, while the African Development Bank Group will support an additional 50 million people.

Access to electricity is a fundamental human right and is foundational to any successful development effort. Currently, 600 million Africans lack access to electricity, creating significant barriers to healthcare, education, productivity, digital inclusivity and, ultimately, job creation.

There can be no development without electricity

"Electricity access is the bedrock of all development. It is a critical ingredient for economic growth and essential for job creation at scale. Our aspiration will only be realised with partnership and ambition. We will need policy action from governments, financing from multilateral development banks, and private sector investment to see this through," says Ajay Banga, World Bank Group President. 

This partnership is a demonstration of the determination of the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank Group to be bolder, bigger and better in tackling one of the most pressing challenges in Africa. The initiative is the most recent manifestation of the World Bank Group’s commitment to become more impact-oriented and is the by-product of a concerted work-plan to build a better bank. It is aided by a constellation of regional energy programmes that will now be aligned toward this common goal. 

For the World Bank Group to connect 250 million people, 30 billion USD of public sector investment will be needed, of which the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional arm for low-income countries, will be critical. In addition, governments will need to put in place policies to attract private investment, and reform their utilities so that they are financially sound and efficient with tariff mechanisms that protect the poor. 

Connecting 250 million people to electricity would open private sector investment opportunities in distributed renewable energy alone worth 9 billion USD. Beyond that, there would be substantial opportunities for private investments in grid-connected renewable energy needed to power economies for growth.

(World Bank/pas)