The World Bank Group on Wednesday announced the commitment of $5bn (N800bn) in new technical and financial support to energy projects in six African countries.
The countries, which have partnered the Power Africa initiative of the United States President, Barack Obama, are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia and Tanzania.
In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the bank quoted the President of the group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, to have said the new financial commitment was urgently needed to generate more electricity for the people of Africa.
The statement said that despite the fact that Africa possessed some of the world’s largest hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar potential as well as significant oil and natural gas reserves, 600 million of its population had no access to electricity.
He said, “We think that the US Power Africa initiative will play an extremely important role in achieving the goal of providing electricity for Africa.
“So, today, I’m very pleased to announce that the World Bank Group, following President Obama’s lead, will partner with Power Africa by committing $5bn in direct financing, investment guarantees, and advisory services for project preparation in Power Africa’s six initial partner countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
“The US government and the World Bank Group are working now on specific tasks and milestones, which could help to achieve one quarter of Power Africa’s goal of generating 10,000 megawatts of new power in sub-Saharan Africa.”
He added that the power crisis on the continent of Africa had forced families and communities to spend significant amounts of their income on costly and unhealthy forms of energy, such as diesel generators, or wood for indoor cooking fires.
The statement said while Africa, with a vast hydropower potential, used just eight per cent of its untapped water force, Western Europe was using 85 per cent of its available hydropower potential, which had contributed to its economic development and industrialisation.
It also quoted the bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, as saying that the group was currently working with African leaders and other development partners to create power pools in the region.
Diop said, “Like Europe and the rest of the world, Africa deserves the same opportunity to exploit this green source of power to improve the lives and economic prospects of its people. Beyond building up power generators, they must be connected to the market, which calls for regional cooperation to build the transmission network.
“We are working with African leaders and their development partners to create power pools in Africa’s east, west, central and southern sub-regions.
“Those countries with abundant geothermal, gas, hydro, solar, and wind resources can feed their excess power supply into a common pool, while neighbouring states with less energy and generation capacity can benefit from this integrated approach to delivering electricity to their people.”