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In the Sahel, the African Development Bank Group helps the region push to its potential

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Through multiple transformative actions, the African Development Bank Group has become an indispensable development partner for Sahel countries facing enormous challenges. Support for the Sahel region, in areas including infrastructure, women’s empowerment and climate change adaptation, is in line with the priorities set by the Bank, focusing on the Sahel’s significant opportunities in order to help it realize its potential for development.

"The Bank Group has a deep knowledge of the region's challenges and is taking every opportunity to strengthen resilience, develop high-quality infrastructure, support the private sector to create millions of jobs for young people and empower women," said Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, the Bank's Director-General for West Africa.

Over the years, the Bank Group has broadened its scope of action and tailored its response to the needs of the region. The Group's priority areas of engagement in the Sahel are: resilience and the fight against fragility, infrastructure development, food security, youth employment, women's empowerment, adaptation to climate change, refugee assistance, governance, regional integration, and the fight against coronavirus.

In recent years, the Bank Group has used its concessional financing window, the African Development Fund, to provide sustained and diversified support to Sahelian countries' development programmes. As of 30 September 2020, its portfolio in the G5 Sahel countries comprised 105 projects with total commitments of $3.2 billion.

Strong response to Covid-19

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the African Development Fund has helped these countries to mitigate the health, social and economic consequences and has supported their economic recovery plans. For example, the Fund provided $285 million in targeted emergency budget support and a $20-million grant to Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The African Development Bank is a founding member of the Sahel Alliance(link is external), along with the World Bank, the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme, France and Germany. The Sahel alliance, which receives decisive support from the Bank, aims to provide an appropriate and effective response in six priority sectors: education and youth employment, agriculture, rural development, food security, energy and climate, and internal security.

The Bank's contributions include the financing of the Priority Investment Programme (PIP) developed by the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat.

At the Summit for Heads of State of the G5 Sahel held in Ouagadougou in September 2019, Bank President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina launched the "Desert to Power" initiative to produce 10 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030 to provide electricity to 250 million people in 11 countries of the Sahel.

Many programmes are underway as part of this initiative. In Chad, for example, multi-party funding is enabling construction of the Djermaya solar power plant. The funding was realized thanks to the catalysing action of the Bank, which is also providing the project with a partial risk guarantee. The 34-megawatt power plant will provide 10% of the energy supplied to the interconnected system and will prevent more than 45 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions.

Solar power plants in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, the Yeleen project, which benefits from €48.82 million ($51.35 million) in Bank funding, is enabling the development of solar power plants and the strengthening of the national electrical network. This project includes the construction of four solar photovoltaic power plants in four cities: Ouagadougou (Centre), Dori (North), Diapaga (East) and Gaoua (South-west) connecting 30,000 households, or more than 200,000 people, to the power grid. Dozens of educational, apprenticeship and technical and vocational training centres located in the project areas will also gain access to electricity that will improve their operations.

As part of its support to fragile states, the Bank Group is pushing ahead with transformative programmes. In Niger, the Bank is contributing $130 million to the flagship Kandadji Dam construction programme, for which it is the lead technical and financial partner. At a cost of approximately $1.2 billion, Kandadji is an integrated and strategic national and cross-border programme that will transform the lives of more than three million direct beneficiaries and contribute to a marked improvement in the living conditions of 10 million people.

In Mali, the African Development Fund is financing the Socio-Economic Reintegration Support Project for the Population of Northern Mali, which will benefit 635,000 people, at a total investment cost of 8.5 billion CFA francs ($13.6 million).

Drought and insecurity

The Bank is also helping with women's empowerment, with direct projects and through credit lines to financial institutions. Support for the private sector and state institutions is also essential for strengthening governance in this fragile region.

The economy of the Sahel is constantly challenged by the effects of climate change, with droughts and floods that undermine people's livelihoods and further accentuate already-precarious living conditions. This situation fuels community conflicts, migration, terrorism, maritime piracy and trafficking of all kinds. Young people, (65% of the population of the Sahel) facing unemployment are particularly exposed to these scourges. To help countries in the region address these challenges, the African Development Bank Group has provided more than $2.1 billion over the past decade to support the work of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, which includes the G5 Sahel countries.

Through the African Fragility and Resilience Strategy and the Transition Support Facility as a financing instrument, the Bank Group will continue to prioritize the Sahel, increasing its support to fragile countries in the region. The aim is to strengthen their resilience, to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and to achieve the twin strategic objectives of inclusive and green growth and reducing extreme poverty. The African Development Bank Group is working for a prosperous, stable and resilient Sahel.