FREETOWN (Reuters) - The World Bank has signed an agreement with four West and Central African nations worth $311 million to fund renewable energy projects.
The funds will finance around 106 megawatts (MW) of solar power generation capacity with battery energy and storage systems, and 41 MW expansion of hydroelectric capacity.
The countries are Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Chad. The funds will support electricity distribution and transmission interventions.
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, who presided over the signing ceremony on Wednesday, said the deal was the beginning of a revolution in energy supply and access in the respective countries.
West Africa and Central Africa has one of the lowest electrification rates coupled with some of the highest electricity costs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Energy costs have increased further because of the impacts of Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as fuel prices rise.
"We are paying far more for energy now than we were 18 months ago. Very high and rising energy prices continue to have an adverse impact on other sectors of our economies," Maada Bio said.
The West Africa Power Pool, a regional approach to improve electricity in the sub-region, will also receive some funds that approved in December under a new World Bank Regional Emergency Solar Power Intervention Project.
Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration said the project was the first time four countries had been brought together for a regional energy approach.
"It is a continental approach to make sure that we reach universal access to clean affordable energy by 2030," Guermazi said, adding that the project would be completed in four years.
(Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Editing by Bate Felix)