The International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank Group, says it has mobilised and invested over $2 billion to support more than 1, 5000 megawatts of new generation capacity in Africa in the past two years.
It says Africa needs to increase its power generation capacity by 7, 000 megawatts each year to meet rising demand for electricity in a continent where most people live without electricity lamenting that such gap hinders economic growth and deters much-needed foreign investment. It says that expanding the supply of energy has become an imperative that cannot be delayed in Africa.
“In the past two fiscal years alone, IFC has invested and mobilised over $2 billion in financing to support more than 1,500
megawatts of new generation capacity in Africa. Besides investing in debt and equity, we facilitate connections between viable investment opportunities and the financiers that can support them.
We take innovative approaches to our investments, supporting large, potentially transformative projects,” the IFC said.
“ We also help developing countries expand the use of cutting-edge technologies, such as concentrated solar power which uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate rays of sunlight to heat steam that power turbines.
For instance, IFC helped launch two landmark concentrated solar projects in South Africa in 2012 that will help diversify the
country’s electricity from coalfired power.”
Sub-Saharan Africa is rich in energy resources but its potential remains mostly untapped. Despite the abundance of sunlight, solar projects have been developed slowly and often inefficiently.
Weak competition and high transaction costs are some of the obstacles that hamper the progress of the technology.
Increasing access to power in Africa has long been of critical importance to the IFC. It says it is the leading financier of independent generation projects, having supported not only the continent’s first private distribution company, in Uganda, but also its private integrated utility, in Cameroon. IFC has recently launched an initiative to expand the market for solar power in Africa.