World Bank unveils $5 billion plan for sub-Saharan energy development

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A US$5 billion package from the World Bank Group earlier this month will help support new technical and financial support for energy projects — including hydroelectric power — in six African countries.

Included are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, which have partnered with the Power Africa initiative.

The World Bank said 600 million Africans lack access to electricity, despite the fact that the continent has some of the world’s largest hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar potential, along with significant oil and natural gas reserves.

“We think that the U.S. Power Africa initiative will play an extremely important role in achieving the goal of providing electricity for Africa,” World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim said. “The U.S. government and the World Bank Group are now working on specific tasks and milestones which could help to achieve one-quarter of Power Africa’s goal of generating 10,000 MW of new power in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

World Bank data shows Africa uses just 8% of its hydroelectric potential, with thousands of MW-worth of power waiting to be developed.

“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,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa.

Diop said the World Bank intends to develop generating sources in resource-rich countries, with power being fed into a “common pool” that can then be distributed to neighboring countries.

The World Bank sought expressions of interest from consultants to prepare a study of hydropower developments in sub-Saharan Africa in June in an effort to assess its role and elaborate a strategic plan for cultivating hydroelectric resources.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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