World Bank Approves RESPITE Program to Increase Renewables in West Africa


The World Bank has recently approved the Regional Emergency Solar Power Intervention Project (RESPITE) to benefit existing and prospective electricity customers in several West African Nations. The main objective of the project is to accelerate grid-connected renewable energy capacity and strengthen regional integration in these countries.


The RESPITE initiative has been approved for a total amount of $311 million which will be financed through the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA). The project also includes a grant of $20 million that will facilitate future regional power trade and boost the institutional as well as technical capacities of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to undertake its regional mandate.


Under RESPITE, IDA will finance the installation of 106 MW of solar PV with storage systems, the expansion of 41 MW of hydroelectric capacity, and further support power distribution and transmission interventions across the four West African countries including Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

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The West African region has one of the lowest electrification rates along with some of the highest electricity costs, in the continent. The rise in oil prices is increasing the liabilities suffered by electricity companies in West Africa, leading to an acute power supply crisis. RESPITE is the World Bank’s response to the ongoing power crisis in these countries by accelerating the deployment of renewable energy.


Rhonda Jordan-Antoine, World Bank Task Team Leader for RESPITE, said the program supports new solutions and substantial benefits for the region. It will initiate the development of grid-connected clean energy to alleviate the current energy crisis, address the issues of climate change by helping the beneficiary countries to move away from polluting fuels, and synchronize the WAPP network to strengthen regional integration in the energy sector.

Boutheina Guermazi, Word Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA, said the program complements existing regional cooperation in the energy sector of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries. It will increase the potential for regional trade via investments in power generation and transmission infrastructure. This will physically integrate the markets and develop regional public goods by facilitating knowledge transfer and capacity building.

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