COMESA, World Bank Launch Project to Improve Energy Access in Africa

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The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), working with the World Bank, has launched the Accelerating Sustainable and Clean Energy Access Transformation initiative aimed at improving access to energy in eastern and southern African regions.

According to COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, the initiative, which was launched on June 4, 2024, in Lusaka, Zambia, targets to deliver new electricity connections to over 100 million people in the next seven years, focusing on expanding both grid and off-grid electricity connections, renewable energy solutions, clean cooking technologies, and fuels.

Speaking during the launch, Kapwepwe said that African countries need substantial investments to address their energy challenges, adding that according to the African Development Bank’s projection, about 35 billion U.S. dollars are required to achieve universal energy access in Africa by 2030.

“This is a major stumbling block that needs to be addressed through creative interventions such as this project,” Kapwepwe said.

She noted that around 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity, with rural populations being the hardest hit, with millions still relying on traditional energy sources such as biomass, kerosene, and diesel for cooking, lighting, and heating.

The project earmarks 5 billion dollars from the International Development Association and aims to leverage an additional 10 billion dollars from other partners for investment in grid and distributed renewable energy.

Boutheina Guermazi, the World Bank director of regional integration for sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa, described the project as a flagship initiative and a game changer designed to help countries provide electricity to their citizens, adding that ensuring access to reliable and affordable energy for all is a key element of the bank’s regional strategy for Africa.

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