World Bank Provides US$311 Million for West Africa Regional Emergency Solar Power Intervention Project

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RESPITE – a $311 million regional project supported by the World Bank and approved on December 20, 2022, with legal agreements signed today – aims to rapidly increase grid-connected renewable energy capacity and strengthen regional integration in the participating countries.

West Africa has one of the lowest electrification rates, with 220 million people living without access, coupled with some of the highest electricity costs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rising oil prices – as a consequence of the war in Ukraine – have increased the liabilities of electricity utilities, and countries are facing an acute power supply crisis that threatens their economic growth. Furthermore, countries in the region rely on oil-based power plants to meet growing demand. In addition to the negative impact on the climate, this leads to increasingly higher tariffs for consumers.

RESPITE will help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by financing the installation and operation of approximately 106 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power with batteries and storage systems, 41 megawatts expansion of hydroelectric power capacity, and by supporting electricity distribution and transmission interventions across the four countries. It also includes a regional approach, providing $20 million to help the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) to enhance the potential for power trade in West Africa and to facilitate knowledge sharing among ECOWAS member countries.

RESPITE offers a more sustainable and affordable solution to a cleaner energy sector and will pave the way for the ambitious expansion of clean energy generation in the future in West Africa. As part of the launch, a Regional Energy Sector Roundtable was held prior to the Signing Ceremony to specifically discuss how deployment of renewable energy can help countries lower costs, reduce emissions, and ensure universal energy access to support economic transformation in West Africa.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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