Bank welcomes French-Indian backing for African solar investment

Out-Law News | 15 Mar 2018 | 1:04 pm | 1 min. read

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has partnered with a Franco-Indian backed initiative to invest in expanding the development of solar power facilities across Africa.

The (AfDB) bank said together with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) it will jointly support technical assistance and knowledge transfer for solar development and deployment "and develop finance instruments for off-grid solar projects, as well as large-scale solar independent power producers for African ISA member countries”.

Under the terms of the partnership, the AfDB said ISA would support the bank’s ‘Desert to Power’ solar programme— which has the aim of working with investment partners to develop 10,000 megawatts of solar power systems across the Sahel. The move is “expected to provide electricity to 250 million people, with 90 million of these being on off-grid systems”, the AfDB said.

The partnership agreement was signed on the margins of the ISA’s founding conference in New Delhi earlier this month. The conference was co-chaired by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron.

Macron told the conference attracting public and private finance at scale was among the ISA’s top priorities.

Modi stressed the “need to ensure that better and affordable solar technology is available and accessible to everyone”, the AfDB said.

AfDB vice-president for power, energy climate and green growth, Amadou Hott, said: “This signing is an important milestone for the bank in its efforts to lead the continent’s transformation towards sustainable energy, through the use of solar technologies, and in its bid to reach universal access to energy in Africa.”

The ISA was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, in November 2015, by PM Modi and then French president Francois Hollande. The alliance brings together a “coalition of solar resource rich countries”, the AfDB said. Thirty-two of the 60-member countries that have joined the alliance are from Africa.

According to the AfDB, the partnership “lays out areas of deeper cooperation between ISA and the bank, including developing innovative financial instruments to reduce risks and costs associated with solar investments and to leverage climate financing and commercial co-financing and mobilising concessional financing through the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and other bank-hosted funds”.

Multinational financial institutions such as the World Bank have been keen to support the establishment of financing for the development of solar power infrastructure in Africa to boost access to electricity.

Last year, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation launched the ‘Scaling Solar’ initiative to establish a “one-stop shop” for governments that want to attract private investors to build large-scale solar plants in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions, but lack the purchasing power of bigger emerging markets.