The African Development Bank (AfDB)’s director general for East Africa has warmly welcomed Japan’s plans to provide East African countries with the latest ultra-efficient coal technology.
In July, Japan launched the Japan-Africa Energy Initiative in partnership with the AfDB, a $6 billion aid programme which aims to help deliver universal electricity access in Africa by the ambitious date of 2025.
Responding to the announcement, the AfDB’s East Africa DG Gabriel Negatu said: “We seek to support the small and medium players who want to join the regional energy sector under Japan’s Light up and Power Africa initiative, which aims to enable regional countries achieve universal access to energy by 2025, using available energy sources and the most advanced technologies.”
East Africa is home to some of the world’s worst energy poverty. The most recent figures show that national electrification rates stand at only 25% in Ethiopia, 20% in Kenya and 19% in Uganda. Factories go unbuilt, babies are delivered by torchlight, while women and girls have to spend long hours fetching fuel and water by hand.
However unlike Western-led multilateral development banks, the AfDB takes a more pragmatic stance on the use of coal to bring power to energy starved populations.
Kenya recently reached an agreement with the Bank to build a new 1000MW coal plant, arguing that it needs to generate at least 30,000MW to fully industrialise.
Where Japan can make a real impact is in supplying these countries with the latest higher efficiency lower emissions (HELE) coal technology. According to the the International Energy Agency, HELE plants can reduce emissions by up to 40 percent compared to the least efficient systems. As one of the world’s biggest coal users, Japan has been a driving force behind the technology.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina has also praised Japan’s involvement, saying: “Japan has answered our call to make it easier for African governments to adopt a balanced energy mix of all available energy sources and technologies, including the best low-emitting clean coal technologies.”