The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) announce a new partnership to unlock public and private investments towards affordable and sustainable energy access for all people in Africa, particularly in the Sahel. Signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the UN Assistant-Secretary General and UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Regional Bureau for Africa Director Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, and Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, committed to mutual efforts to accelerate Africa’s resilience, recovery and development.
“Our vision for this partnership is to continue to promote and support bolder energy transition initiatives for the region and to demonstrate the viability of longer-term programs and investment readiness in the Sahel that will ultimately benefit millions of people in the region who currently do not have access to electricity and clean cooking solutions,” said Ms Ogunbiyi.
More than 53 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africans – about 570 million people – do not have access to electricity, as highlighted by the World Bank. In the Sahel alone, over 51 per cent of the Sahelian population – some 175 million people, do not yet have access to electricity. Further, eighty per cent – or some 271 million people – do not have access to clean cooking. Limited and unpredictable power supplies combined with high electricity costs constrain the development of businesses and economic activities as fossil fuels and traditional biomass (charcoal, wood, dry dung fuel) remain the main energy sources – bearing severe consequences on the environment and human health.
Given the urgent need for action, SEforALL and UNDP teams have identified immediate areas for collaboration. By supporting the policy and regulatory frameworks and strengthening institutional capacity, this alliance aims to unlock public and private sector investment for off-grid rural electrification, amongst other initiatives.
“Sealing this partnership today will strengthen our actions in addressing one of the most pressing issues for all people living in Africa, particularly in the Sahel,” emphasized Ms Eziakonwa. “Affordable and sustainable access to energy is key to accelerating development. A great opportunity awaits to be tapped – to transform the Sahel, regenerating this land of immense opportunity and promise. Investing in energy in the Sahel will deliver dividends for children trying to earn an education, youth willing to access employment opportunities, women yearning to acquire new skills, and empower local authorities or businesses.”
The African continent, particularly the Sahel, has immense renewable energy potential but remains challenged by the high financing costs required to deploy clean energy solutions at scale. Investing in clean energy in the Sahel will increase human development, ensure structural economic transformation and socioeconomic progress, and address conflict triggers in the region. Increasing energy access in the Sahel will spur on catalytic investments, power the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of Sahelian men and women and bring renewed prospects to communities in the hinterlands and ungoverned spaces.