African Development Fund approves Fund for Desert to Power Initiative.


The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund, the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group, has approved a $302.9 million loan co-financing for a multinational power project that is intended to connect 100,000 households across Mauritania and Mali. The Mauritania-Mali 225kV Electricity Interconnection and Solar Power Plant Development Project forms part of the Desert to Power Initiative. The funds comprise $269.6 million for Mauritania and $33.3 million for Mali. Other partners, including climate funds, will contribute to the project cost, which is estimated at $888 million. The Mauritania-Mali 225kV electricity interconnection project, combined with the development of solar power plants, represents a strategic investment to support rapid solar energy production and guarantee universal access to electricity in the two Sahel countries.

The project will establish a high-voltage electrical interconnection over 1,373 kilometers, with a 600 megawatt (MW) transfer capacity between the two countries; build a 50 MW solar power plant in Kiffa, Mauritania, linked to the interconnection, and connect 100,000 new households (80,000 in Mauritania and 20,000 in Mali) to the power grid in the areas crossed by the cable. The project will also create opportunities for young people and women to establish agricultural and service businesses.

This project forms part of the regional roadmap approved by the countries that will benefit from the Desert to Power Initiative. It is the first section of the trans-Sahel spine aimed at linking Mauritania to Chad via Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. The interconnection will enable the development of new renewable power plants, whose production will be more closely integrated into interconnected grids. Commissioning it will facilitate access to a high-quality, low-carbon electricity supply at an affordable price. 

Malinne Blomberg, the Bank Group’s Deputy Director General for North Africa and head of the Bank’s Country Office in Mauritania commended the Malian and Mauritanian governments for supporting the Bank in the project’s preparation.

Blomberg said: “This is an inclusive, sustainable project that translates into reality our policy of supporting the development of green infrastructure in Africa. It will also have an impact on promoting both the private sector and trade, and creating job opportunities.”

Adalbert Nshimyumuremyi, head of the Bank’s Country Office in Mali, said the approval represents the Bank’s commitment to supporting African countries’ development. “Permanent access to a high-quality electricity supply at an affordable cost will strengthen the resilience of populations in the beneficiary areas,” he said, adding that the project will be implemented in Mali’s Kayes region and will benefit 500,000 inhabitants, including 20,000 households in the 50 areas that will be connected to the grid.


The Desert to Power Initiative was Launched in 2019, Desert to Power is an initiative designed and implemented by the African Development Bank. It aims to exploit the solar power potential of 11 countries in the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan) by investing in solar power production and providing access to electricity. The project aims to increase solar power production capacity by 10 gigawatts between now and 2030, through public and private, on and off-grid projects to provide 250 million people with access to electricity.

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