Editor’s Note: December 10, 2019

Could the Sahara solve Africa’s power problem?

The African Development Bank plans to develop 10GW of solar power in the Sahel region by 2025, providing electricity to up to 250m people.

The ambition is part of the “Desert to Power” initiative, which hopes to turn Africa into a “renewables powerhouse” by tapping into the Sahara’s famed solar potential. This is estimated to be as much as 10 Terawatts, or 60 times the continent’s installed capacity in 2016.

It covers 11 countries in the Sahel stretching from Mali and Burkina Faso, to Sudan and Ethiopia.

If successful the project could reduce Africa’s estimated power gap by more than a third, but there is good cause for scepticism.

The plan is eerily reminiscent of the defunct Desertec Industrial Initiative. Launched in 2009 with high profile private sector support it hoped to generate 15% of Europe’s energy needs through a network of solar plants across North Africa by 2050.

The project effectively folded in 2014 due to regional instability and failure to meet its $500bn funding target.

While solar prices have dropped significantly since Desertec’s demise the Desert to Power Initiative, which is noticeably light on detail, could suffer a similar fate.

Unlike Desertec it does not have meaningful private sector backing, and covers one of the continent’s most volatile regions.

From The Continent

Democratic Republic of Congo’s outgoing president Joseph Kabila has said he will remain active in politics following presidential elections on December 23rd, refusing to rule out running again in 2023. The country’s constitution only bars an incumbent from more than two consecutive terms in office. More: BBC

The IMF has approved a $3.7bn credit facility for Angola following a request for support by the country in August. The funding is aimed at supporting sweeping economic reform in the country, with around $990m to be disbursed immediately. More: Euronews

The Daily Stat


The amount by which air fares in Sudan have spiked following a currency devaluation, amid an acute economic crisis. More: Reuters

The Global Perspective

The World Bank has signed an agreement with Egypt for $1bn in funding, the second phase of a programme to support economic reform. Cairo is on an austerity drive as part of a $12bn IMF programme including a currency float in 2016, price hikes and subsidy cuts. More: Reuters

The EU is today expected to extend sanctions against Congo’s ruling party presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, two weeks before the country votes in presidential elections. The vote will see president Joseph Kabila stand down after 17 years. More: News 24

The Daily Follow

IFC Africa @IFCAfrica: The World Bank’s private sector lending arm in Africa.