UNAIDS and WHO Africa Leaders Should Prioritize Women’s Health

Winnie Byanyima. Credit: Marianela Jarroud/IPS.

By Ifeanyi Nsofor
ABUJA, Sep 13 2019 – Two African women were recently appointed to top global health positions: Winnie Byanyima as the Executive Director of UNAIDS and Dr. Matshidiso Moeti reappointed as the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

Already, Ms. Byanyima is focusing on human rights as a way to end the AIDS epidemic, and Dr. Moeti’s priorities include ensuring more Africans have universal health coverage, preventing and managing disease outbreaks and promoting good health.

In these powerful roles, they should also prioritize addressing issues uniquely affecting women — from HIV to childbirth to infectious diseases — because when women are healthy, the society progresses.

Further, the health of women is a measure of a society’s level of development. As a father to two daughters, I am rooting for Ms. Byanyima and Dr. Moeti to succeed and leave the world healthier than they met it. This is what they can do.

 

HIV

Too many women still die while trying to give life. Globally, an estimated 830 women die due to pregnancy or birth related complications daily. The burden is more in developing than developed countries – a ratio of 239 versus 12 per 100,000 live births respectively

Thirty-eight million people were living with HIV and 23 million had access to antiretroviral therapy according to UNAIDS 2018 global data , women are disproportionately affected by HIV. For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of new infections among adolescents aged 15–19 years are in girls.

Globally, young women aged 15–24 years are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men. An additional crisis is how of the 1.3 million pregnant women who were living with HIV, only 82% received drugs that would prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. Thus, the cycle of having above 180,000 new HIV infections in children aged 0-14 years continues.

Ms. Byanyima’s major focus around HIV infections should be to ensure that women of reproductive age have access to the right information to prevent new HIV infections and not give birth to a HIV-infected baby.

There is a solution already — Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) reduces this risk from 45% to 5%, it just needs to be applied more broadly. Further, there are lessons UNAIDS can learn and share from Cuba and Malaysia, countries that have eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV.

 

Childbirth

Too many women still die while trying to give life. Globally, an estimated 830 women die due to pregnancy or birth related complications daily. The burden is more in developing than developed countries – a ratio of 239 versus 12 per 100,000 live births respectively.

The Maternal Health task Force at the Chan Harvard School of Public Health reports a 2013 reviewwhich showed that 5% of pregnancy-related deaths globally and 25% of pregnancy-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are attributable to HIV and AIDS.

Research shows that use of community drug keepers can prevent excessive bleeding after birth, which is the commonest cause of birth-related deaths, by up to 83%, even with low skilled attendance at birth.

Consequently, community health workers should be used to improve maternal health because they live and work in communities and are trusted by the people. They can accompany pregnant women to health facilities for antenatal services/birth and provide other supports that would reduce the stress of pregnancy.

Despite the strategic position of community health workers in improving health, most of them are unpaid. Therefore, Ms. Byanyima and Dr. Moeti should ensure that community health workers, who are mostly women are henceforth paid for their services.

The important work they do across communities globally should no longer be considered as mere volunteerism and if it is paid, more people could undertake the job and save more lives at childbirth.

 

Infectious Disease

It is inevitable that infectious disease outbreaks will happen and that they will spread quickly. An infection which begins in a remote location can get to major capitals within 36 hours.

Sadly, there is no African country that is fully ready for epidemics, based on scoring on preventepdemics.org. Women are usually the caregivers when family members are sick and bear the brunt of infectious disease outbreaks.

Dr. Moeti should use her influence as the Head of WHO Africa Office to advocate to African leaders to ensure all countries on the continent conduct a joint external evaluation to document their levels of preparedness for epidemics and engage with legislatures to appropriate more funds to national public health institutes for epidemic preparedness.

WHO should work with national and sub-national ministries of health to educate communities about epidemics and their roles in detecting, preparing and responding to disease outbreaks.

Partnership between UNAIDS and WHO AFRO is imperative. Therefore, Ms. Byanyima and Dr. Moeti should work together to achieve these objectives. The global health community will continue to hold both accountable and demand for improved services for women.

 

Leaders Must Start Taking Science Seriously – U.N.

United Nations experts warned this week that world leaders attending this month’s United Nations General Assembly should listen harder to scientists if they want to tackle climate change and meet global anti-poverty targets. Pictured here is the 2017 damaged caused by Hurricane Irma on the British Virgin Islands. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By James Reinl
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 13 2019 – World leaders attending this month’s United Nations General Assembly should listen harder to scientists if they want to tackle climate change and meet global anti-poverty targets, U.N. experts warned this week. 

Shantanu Mukherjee, from the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the presidents, prime ministers and princes coming to discuss development and global warming in New York must boost their efforts to avert global calamity.

Politicians must start “recognising the impact of science and policy and strengthening it among the people who are here so that it becomes a reliable basis for decision-making,” Mukherjee said in answer to a question from IPS.

“If there is a commitment among the leaders who come here, even some of them that they will take this seriously and use it to inform their policy, which we will support with scientific evidence, that would be great.”

Environmentalists have expressed fears of wavering commitments among leaders to limiting climate change, pointing to such skeptics as United States President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.

Mukherjee spoke with reporters in New York on Wednesday while releasing a report, called The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development, which warns of deepening inequalities and irreversible damage to ecosystems.  

The document says that mankind can still achieve the U.N.’s so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards ending poverty and other targets, but not without boosting efforts to reduce waste, pollution and inequality.

Between 2017 and 2060, the annual global consumption of material goods is expected to climb from 89 Gigatons to 167 Gigatons, leading to more greenhouse gas emissions, mining and other resource extraction, researchers said.

Meanwhile, the global population is expected to reach 8.5 billion people by 2030, meaning more mouths to feed and greater demand on power stations, most of which still pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Endah Murniningtyas, a former Indonesian minister who helped write the report, said producing enough food while keeping the global rise in temperatures below a benchmark figure of 2 degrees Celsius could prove impossible.

“This is not inevitable. We have the knowledge and the means already to change and ensure that all our wellness [is maintained] even as we scale back the adverse impacts,” of climate change,” Murniningtyas told reporters.

“Focus on the policy must be enabling equitable global access for food and maximising the nutritional value of produce while at the same time minimising the climate and environmental impact of production.”

The 250-page report was drafted by an independent group of 15 scientists. The document will be at the centre of high-level talks on the SDGs on Sept 24-25, when Trump, Bolsonaro and others are expected in New York.

Peter Messerli, director of the Centre for Development and Environment at the Bern University in Switzerland, said leaders must start changing how we design cities, harness energy and feed growing populations.

“All these systems are currently we can say to a certain degree dysfunctional, but they hold the promise that if we address those trade-offs, that way, they will really leverage transformation,” Messerli told reporters.

But the politicians attending a U.N. climate summit on Sept 23. and other high-level talks in New York will be swamped with other hot issues, said Messerli, with wars in Syria and Yemen high up the global agenda.

“We will not change the world. But we need to change their minds in this direction. Because if we change the minds, I think we can change the world,” Messerli, a co-author of the report, said in answer to a question from IPS. 

Bolsonaro and Trump are the first two leaders listed to speak at the start of the U.N.’s general debate on Sept. 24, followed shortly afterward by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and others.

Swedish teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg last month sailed across the Atlantic Ocean aboard a carbon-neutral racing yacht bearing the slogan “unite behind the science” to attend the summit and put pressure on leaders.

Translating Ambition to Action: High Hopes for United Nations Action Week

Cameron Diver is Deputy Director-General, the Pacific Community (SPC)

By Cameron Diver
New Caledonia, Sep 13 2019 – In less than 10 days, countries from around the planet will come together in New York for the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit. I look forward to representing the Pacific Community (SPC) at this important event, and throughout “Action Week” during the upcoming UN General Assembly.

Cameron Diver

The interconnections and synergies between major issues of global concern and the key role multilateralism and international cooperation can play in helping tackle these challenges are illustrated by the agenda of the week from 23 to 27 September. Underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals, each of the high-level summits will focus on commitments to accelerate action across climate change, enhance efforts to secure healthy, peaceful and prosperous lives for all, mobilise sufficient financing to realise the 2030 Agenda and address the specific issues and vulnerabilities of small island developing states.

The week of summits kicks off with a focus on climate action. And this is, in my mind, highly appropriate. The multiplier effect of climate change undermines our efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, it increases the challenges of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, it intensifies competition and the potential for conflict around natural resources and it poses the single greatest existential threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the globe. From where I stand, the science on climate change is clear. To take only these examples, the IPCC Special Reports on the impacts of global warming of 1.5° above pre-industrial levels and climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems provide us with the most robust, high quality evidence base to understand the significant negative impact climate change is already having on our natural environment, on the wellbeing of people, ecosystems, flora and fauna and the massive and potentially irreversible consequences of inaction. As regards our ocean, the upcoming Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate is likely to confirm what the islands of the Blue Pacific continent, and others whose cultures, traditions and livelihoods are deeply attached to the ocean, have already sensed: the climate crisis is a real and present threat to ocean and coastal ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them.

The stakes are high, but where there is a threat there is also an opportunity. If we act now, there is still have time effectively to tackle the climate crisis! To put it simply: ambition without action is insufficient and simply not an option. SPC is committed to working with our Member States, international and regional partners to translate climate ambition into tangible climate action, for both mitigation and adaptation. The benefits could be huge, with the Global Commission on Adaptation estimating that investing $1.8 trillion in climate adaptation globally in just five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits. We are also convinced that we must collectively harness the synergies between, for example, climate and the ocean, biodiversity, health, security, economic development, food systems, land use, gender and many other development areas to fully exploit the potential of the SDGs and ensure that future pathways to sustainable development are integrated, inclusive, nature-friendly, climate-informed and resilient. SPC is already implementing this approach with its Members and partners. One illustration is our EU funded PROTEGE project, whose intended outcomes include a transition to sustainable integrated agriculture and sound forestry resource management; sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management that is integrated in and adapted to island economies; sustainable integrated water resource management; and invasive alien species control, all against a backdrop of climate-change hazards that require ecosystem and biodiversity protection, resilience and restoration.

As was recently remarked to me at the Green Climate Fund Global Programming Conference in Korea: “we already know what we must do. We need to stop talking and start doing”. It is my sincere hope that “Action Week” in New York will indeed be a turning point for “doing”; a catalyst for firm, measurable commitments to tangible actions that match the level of ambition already expressed to address the climate crisis and the multiple development challenges that remain as we approach the final decade of the 2030 Agenda. If we do not translate ambition into action, we will fail ourselves, we will fail future generations and we will fail our planet. If, however, we take up the challenge and take sustained, coordinated and integrated action, we can win the battle against climate change, create new and innovative opportunities for development, deliver on the promise of the Global Goals and trace a positive pathway to new era of resilient and sustainable development. High hopes indeed…

AfDB ‘s Solar Project Aims at Making Africa a Renewable Power House

Credit: AfDB

By Razeena Raheem
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 13 2019 – When UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the International Solar Alliance last October, he applauded the goal of mobilizing about $1 trillion dollars towards the deployment of some 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030.

“It is clear,” he said, “that we are witnessing a global renewable energy revolution.”

That revolution is also taking place under the leadership of the African Development Bank (AfDB) which has embarked on a highly ambitious solar project to make Africa a renewable power-house, titled “Desert to Power (DtP) Initiative”.

This project is expected to stretch across the Sahel region by tapping into the region’s abundant solar resource.

The Initiative aims to develop and provide 10 GW of solar energy by 2025 and supply 250 million people with green electricity including in some of the world’s poorest countries. At least 90 million people will be connected to electricity for the first time, lifting them out of energy poverty.

Currently, 64% of the Sahel’s population – covering Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea – lives without electricity, a major barrier to development, with consequences for education, health and business.

The AfDB has rightly pointed out that lack of energy remains a significant impediment to Africa’s economic and social development.

Initiated back in 2017 by the AfDB, the DtP has been described “a big and bold ambition: to light up and power the Sahel by building electricity generation capacity of 10 GW through photovoltaic (PV) solar systems via public, private, grid and off-grid projects by 2025, and consequently transform the industry, agriculture and economic fabric of the entire region”

The Yeleen Rural Electrification Project, involving the production of off-grid energy in Burkina Faso, is the first venture under the DtP initiative.

A low-income Sahelian country, Burkina Faso has been negatively impacted by extreme climate variations such as declining rainfall, rising temperatures, floods and droughts. With installed capacity of 285 MW, about 3 million households in Burkina Faso are completely without power.

Of Burkina Faso’s 19 million population, 90% live in rural areas, where electricity access – mostly through diesel generators – stands at just 3%. Agriculture, the mainstay of Burkina Faso’s rural economy, is also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The project is financed through the Bank’s African Development Fund, in addition to co-financing mobilised by the Bank from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and the European Union. The project will also leverage private sector investments through equity and debt raised from commercial banks.

It will harness solar energy to deliver access to more than 900,000 people in rural areas – nearly 5% of the country’s population, and is expected to result in an average annual CO2 emissions reduction of 15,500 tons.

Meanwhile, Guterres said that renewable energy accounted for some 70 per cent of net additions to global power capacity in 2017.

Solar energy is at the centre of this revolution, he declared

“We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels,” he said. “We need to replace them with clean energy from water, wind and sun. We must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm.”

The alternative to moving to green energy, he said, “is a dark and dangerous future”.

According to AfDB, energy poverty in Africa is estimated to cost the continent 2-4 % GDP annually. The details of the “Desert to Power Initiative” were outlined as part of the Paris Agreement climate change talks at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

“Energy is the foundation of human living – our entire system depends on it. For Africa right now, providing and securing sustainable energy is in the backbone of its economic growth,” said Magdalena J. Seol in the AfDB’s Desert to Power Initiative.

“A lack of energy remains as a significant impediment to Africa’s economic and social development. The project will provide many benefits to local people. It will improve the affordability of electricity for low income households and enable people to transition away from unsafe and hazardous energy sources, such as kerosene, which carry health risks,” added Seol.

Construction of the project will also create jobs and help attract private sector involvement in renewable energy in the region.

Putting the problem in its right perspective, Guterres said in the past decade, prices for renewables have plummeted and investments are on the rise. “Today, a fifth of the world’s electricity is produced by renewable energy. We must build on this.”

He said the world is seeing a groundswell of climate action.

“It is clear that clean energy makes climate sense. But it also makes economic sense. Today it is the cheapest energy. And it will deliver significant health benefits. Air pollution affects nearly all of us, regardless of borders.”

The Secretary-General encouraged businesses, governments and civil society organizations to disclose climate risk, divest from fossil fuels and forge partnerships that will invest in low-emissions resilient infrastructure.

“We need to do this from the biggest cities to the smallest towns. The opportunities are tremendous.” He said some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 still remains to be built.

“How this is done will either lock us in to a high emission future or steer us towards truly sustainable low-emissions development. There is only one rational choice.”

According to AfDB, many women-led businesses currently face bigger barriers than men-led enterprises to accessing grid electricity – so the project has the potential to increase female participation in economic activities and decision-making processes.

The project has been launched in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund, a global pot of money created by the 194 countries who are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to support developing countries adapt to and mitigate climate change. The program is designed to combine private sector capital with blended finance.

“If you look at the countries that this initiative supports, they’re the ones who are very much affected by the climate change and carbon emissions from other parts of the world,” said Seol.

“Given this, the investments will have a greater effect in these regions, which have a greater demand and market opportunity in the energy sector.”

“Women are usually disproportionately negatively affected by energy access issues. Providing a secure and sustainable electricity creates positive impact on gender issue as well.”

The African continent holds 15% of the world’s population, yet is poised to shoulder nearly 50% of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs, according to the Bank.

These costs are expected to cut across health, water supply, agriculture, and forestry, despite the continent’s minimal contribution to global emissions.

However, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) estimates that Africa’s renewable energy potential could put it at the forefront of green energy production globally.

It is estimated to have an almost unlimited potential of solar capacity (10 TW), abundant hydro (350 GW), wind (110 GW), and geothermal energy sources (15 GW) – and a potential overall renewable energy capacity of 310 GW by 2030.

Other renewables projects in Africa include The Ouarzazate solar complex in Morocco, which is one of the largest concentrated solar plants in the world.

It has produced over 814 GWh of clean energy since 2016 and last year, the solar plant prevented 217,000 tons of CO2 being emitted. Until recently, Morocco sourced 95% of its energy needs from external sources.

In South Africa, the Bank and its partner, the Climate Investment Funds, have helped fund the Sere Wind Farm – 46 turbines supplying 100 MW to the national power grid and expected to save 6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over its 20-year expected life span. It is supplying 124,000 homes.

COP24 is the 24th conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year countries are preparing to implement the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the world’s global warming to no more than 2C.

G5 Sahel Summit: African Development Bank, partners, commit to light up and power the Sahel with the Desert to Power initiative

By African Development Bank
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Sep 13 2019 (IPS-Partners)

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, has arrived in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, ahead of the G5 Sahel Summit, and was received by Burkina Faso’s president, Mark Roch Christian Kaboré.

The Burkinabe president applauded the Bank’s Desert to Power initiative, and also highlighted his country’s
excellent relationship with the Bank, expressing his thanks for the portfolio of projects implemented. The Bank president is an invited guest at the G5 Sahel Summit of heads of state and government on 13 September.

President Adesina praised President Kaboré’s commitment, vision and leadership in agreeing to host the
summit. He stressed the importance of political will in the success of the “Desert to Power” initiative, whose
goal is to guarantee universal access to electricity for over 60 million people through solar energy. It will also provide an opportunity to strengthen the south-south partnership as well as stimulate worldwide involvement in the initiative beyond the G5 Sahel countries. At least $20bn must be raised from development partners.

The two presidents also discussed issues relating to the cotton sector, and agreed on a policy of strengthening the domestic cotton industry, so important for the economy of Burkina Faso. The African Development Bank’s president also expressed his sympathies for the terrorist acts that Burkina Faso has recently suffered and reaffirmed the Bank’s support to the country.

During the summit, the Bank will present its Desert to Power initiative to heads of state and government.
President Adesina has drawn attention to the paradox that one of the world’s sunniest regions lacks access to electricity: “Now, more than ever, cooperation and cross-border trade in energy are essential to maintaining a secure supply over the long term given the challenges of climate change,” he said, adding that “in Burkina Faso, significant steps have been taken with the Bank-supported Yeleen rural electrification project.”

As part of its electrification strategy for Africa, the Bank is firmly committed to accelerating access to high
quality, low cost energy for the continent’s people. Critical network connections have been approved by the
Bank’s Board: Mali-Guinea, Nigeria-Niger-Benin-Burkina Faso and Chad-Cameroon.

The “Desert to Power” initiative spans 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Djibouti, Senegal and Chad. It will have a significant impact on the standard of living of 250 million people. The goal is to install 10 gigawatts of solar capacity between now and 2030, which will take a big step towards the achievement of the Bank’s High 5 goals, since access to energy cuts across all Africa’s development needs. It is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative.

The G5 Sahel is a strategic framework for regional cooperation created in 2014. It includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The G5 Sahel countries are convinced of the interdependence between security and development, particularly in the service sector (energy, transport, telecommunications, and hydraulics).

Contact: Aristide Ahouassou, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email: a.ahouassou@afdb.org

The Boiling Crab Announces Second International Licensing Agreement

GARDEN GROVE, Calif., Sept. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Boiling Crab , popular for serving fresh, simply prepared seafood and shellfish in a casual environment, has finalized their second international franchise license agreement. The new agreement is with Full Feeling Global, Inc., based in Manila, and covers Republic of the Philippines (Philippines), a strategically important market.

The Boiling Crab was founded in 2004 on the premise that everyone should be able to enjoy the unparalleled taste of fresh seafood and the memorable experience of a backyard crab boil shared with friends. According to CEO Dada Ngo, "A bib, some beer, crab legs, and good company is what we are all about."

With 21 locations across the U.S., including California, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii and Florida, and its first international location opening in late 2019 in Shanghai, China, the expansion into the Philippines adds Southeast Asia to The Boiling Crab 's growing global portfolio.

"We're very excited to be expanding to the Philippines, a country that shares the same core values as our concept – the love of shared food with family and good friends, all while eating with your hands. For The Boiling Crab , this means that we are continuing to introduce our love of fresh seafood with more of the world and inviting more people into our family," added Ngo.

The Philippines licensing agreement calls for the first restaurant to open in Manila in early 2020, with seven more restaurants scheduled to open across the Philippines by 2024. Full Feeling Global, Inc., is a successful franchise operator with popular fast food concept Jollibees and multiple Dohtonburi locations on their roster. The Dohtonburi restaurants, a Japanese–based franchise specializing okonomiyaki, a savory pancake, are the first franchised locations outside Japan, proving Full Feeling Global's ability to introduce new dining options to the Philippines market.

Additional licensing deals in other Asia–Pacific countries are currently being negotiated.

ABOUT THE BOILING CRAB

The Boiling Crab is a casual, family–friendly restaurant specializing in Louisiana–style Cajun seafood. The menu features fresh crawfish, shrimp, crab, and other shellfish, plus items like fried catfish, gumbo, Cajun fries, and a wide selection of alcoholic and non–alcoholic beverages.

The first Boiling Crab opened in 2004 in Garden Grove, CA, and popularized the Louisiana–inspired Cajun seafood boil culture with its signature original flavor, The Whole Shabang .

MEDIA CONTACT

Winnie Vu
winnie@theboilingcrab.com
Phone: 714.554.6181
FAX: 714.489.8115

Three Questions to Wale Shonibare, Acting VP, Power, Energy, Climate & Green Growth

By African Development Bank
Sep 13 2019 (IPS-Partners)

The Desert to Power initiative is an ambitious and innovative partnership-driven initiative of the African Development Bank to transform the Sahel and Sahara region through the deployment of solar technologies, at scale, in eleven countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.

Bank Achievements in Energy:

78% of Bank financing is focused on infrastructure. Of the $1.05 billion investments in support of power generation projects, 95% is for renewable energy. Between otal Bank energy commitments reached $4.6 billion, over $1.5 billion per year.

In 2018, 90% of Bank projects were based on climate-informed designs, and $306 million was raised from climate finance funds (GCF, GEF, CIF and other bilateral sources)

More than $76 million has been committed by the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa(SEFA) to provide access to over 1.6 million people and generate 690 megawatts of renewable energy. SEFA is currently changing to a Special Fund to be able provide concessional finance and technical assistance to support the penetration and scale-up of renewable energy.

A $500 million Facility for Energy Inclusion designed to close funding gaps in the small-scale energy infrastructure sector, mitigate key credit and local currency risks, and catalyze growth in last-mile energy access solutions.

Launch of the Africa Energy Portal (https://africa-energy-portal.org/), a new website designed to become a one-stop-shop for all data, news and information on the African energy sector by providing up-to-date data and statistics to investors, policymakers, and researchers in order to address the data-gap issue in the African energy sector.

Launch of the Africa Energy Marketplace, a live platform created and hosted by the Bank that brings governments, private Sector, and development partners together to drive policy dialogue, accelerate reforms and attract private investments in the African energy sector.

Desert to Power proposes to deliver access to electricity to about 250 million people and to develop up to 10 GW of solar generation capacity through a combination of on-grid and off-grid projects.  The initiative is critical in the Bank’s efforts to contribute to the realization of the High 5s, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative.

Desert to Power is implemented in partnership with various financial and technical partners, such as the Agence Française de Développement, Africa 50, the Green Climate Fund, MASEN and GOGLA, among others.

 

What is the focus of the Desert to Power initiative in the G5 Sahel?

The Bank has placed an initial focus on the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), targeting a 1.1 GW increase in generation capacity and the 60 million people who currently lack access to electricity in the region.

The Bank has identified five priority action areas for the G5 Sahel. One, expand utility-scale solar generation capacity, two, extend and strengthen the power transmission network, three, accelerate electrification through decentralized energy solutions, four, revitalize national power utilities; and five, improve the business climate for increased private sector investments. Capacity building is a cross-cutting component of this initiative, in order to reinforce the impact of mobilized resources. At the G5 Summit, the Bank will request the support of the G5 Sahel leaders and partners to progress with realization of these priorities.

I am delighted that this G5 summit is taking place in Burkina Faso, which is home to the first project developed under the Desert to Power initiative:  the Yeleen Rural Electrification Project, which is a multi-million-dollar investment by the African Development Bank, in partnership with the European Union and the Green Climate Fund.

 

What is unique and transformative about the Desert to Power initiative? What are its expected impacts?

The Desert to Power initiative presents tremendous potential for transformative impact.  By enabling the region to harness its solar potential – which is the highest in the world – for sustainable social and economic development, the Desert to Power initiative would ultimately create the largest solar zone in the world.

That said,  Desert to Power is not just about energy: it is also about the impact that energy has on the social and economic development of the region, from enhanced agricultural practices for productive use and food security, to upgraded manufacturing value chains, more opportunities for youth employment, and sustainable mitigation actions to combat desertification.

For example, the Yeleen project will use decentralized photovoltaic solar systems to generate 22.6MW through a network of 100 mini power plants, or mini-grids, and turnkey units. In addition to supplying electricity to 100,000 households for 16 hours a day, the project will create over 700 jobs and impact agriculture, entrepreneurship, and industry.