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World Bank Pledges to Address Africa’s Electricity Deficiency


By Adaobi Rhema Oguejiofor

The World Bank has pledged to address the electricity shortfall in Africa by committing to provide affordable electricity to about 300 million individuals.

This was disclosed by the World Bank President, Ajay Banga, while speaking during an event with the title, ‘Energising Africa: What will it take to achieve universal energy access?’, at the hybrid International Monetary Fund/World Bank spring meetings in Washington DC, United States of America.

Alongside the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, the World Bank Chief pledged to address the electricity poverty in Africa, restating that the current deficit stands at 600 million people without access to electricity, and to narrow this gap, they will provide affordable electricity to 300 million individuals in Africa by 2030.

Banga also commended Nigeria’s efforts in implementing electricity tariff reforms, pointing out the need for further regulatory certainty and clarity in tariff policies. He added that utilities are needed in order to be capable of paying the generators.

“You need tariffs and policies that make them capable of being liquid and profitable enough. I do not mean you should raise tariffs on the poorest as we both believe in a social safety net and we fund them, but it is important to pay the right amount for what you can consume and Nigeria is currently going through an enormous correction. They have to manage well for the poorest in the society to not be as impacted as the others but they are doing it,” he explained.

He again reiterated the necessity of social safety nets in order to protect the most vulnerable in the society, and the importance of paying the appropriate amount for electricity consumption.

In his words, “we need regulatory certainty, tariff policy clarity, and good management teams running utilities and transmission lines because that makes the rest of it possible.”

On the joint commitment of providing affordable electricity in Africa, both institutions noted that power was necessary to foster growth and development and the World Bank would commit to providing for 250 million people, while AfDB would provide for 50 million people, which is half of the estimated population without electricity access.

Banga expressed that in his opinion, the estimated number of people in the continent with no access to any power is an unacceptable situation in the year 2024, adding that electricity is a human right, the basis by which people get access to health, education, the ability to innovate and manufacture, as well as build productivity.

“The news about 600 million in darkness is not new, but we need to move past the problem and have tangible results and what you would hear from both of us today is a commitment. Back in COP 28 the World Bank made a commitment to connect one million Africans to affordable energy in six years. What we are doing today is multiplying that commitment by bringing in all parts of the bank and all parts of Africa and really thinking of how we can make this work. “We have multiplied that commitment to 250 million people out of that 600 million people. My estimate for the World Bank alone for the 250 million is going to take more than $35 billion to make this happen. So think about this as an important human right that allows us to build jobs and capabilities in Africa. I believe that the future in Africa and the jobs for young people depends on five big areas, the first one is energy, then infrastructure, agribusiness, tourism and health care.”

On his part, Adesina said that AfDB, will make sure that it is able to provide 50 million people with access by 2030, adding that Africa has to also harness a significant amount of the renewable energy potential it has. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 600 million people representing 43 per cent of the total African population, lack access to electricity.