Jolke Oppewal is The Netherlands Ambassador to Mali. In this third ambassador blog, he comments on the impact of population growth in Mali and the increasing importance of access to energy.
Mali is part of the Sahel region and is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2015 the peace treaty has been signed after which more than 500.000 homeless and about 60.000 refugees have returned home to Mali. Mali’s population is expected to double from 18 million to around 36 million people by 2035.
To create sustainable stability in the region, the Netherlands aims to apply an integral approach consisting of both military and diplomatic tools as well as development cooperation aid. For the ever-growing group of youngsters in Mali it is important to offer them a perspective on a future in their father land. To enable the youngsters to be able to support themselves, the Netherlands supports programs focusing on higher education and job creation.
But aid alone will not accomplish all the goals. Private investments are crucial and pivotal to achieve the necessary scale and acceleration for sustainable inclusive economic growth. It is fantastic that FMO showed commitment last year to create jobs and deliver wider impact in some of the most challenging countries in the world to do business in. Fewer than 5 million people have access to electricity in Mali.
As the population grows and becomes more urban, lifting the rate of electrification will be essential to social cohesion, stimulating economic activity, alleviating poverty and helping secure political stability.
As the population grows and becomes more urban, lifting the rate of electrification will be essential to social cohesion, stimulating economic activity, alleviating poverty and helping secure political stability. I am pleased to see that due to the Access to Energy Fund FMO invests in the Akuo Kita Solar project and therefore Dutch development cooperation helps to close the energy gap in Mali. The Akuo Kita solar plant will generate an extra 50MW electricity (100% green) towards the grid.
Extra capacity that is much needed to increase the reliability and sustainability of the energy supply that makes a real difference in people’s lives in the South west of Mali and will lead ultimately to sustainable economic development. The funding from AEF has been highly additional as it contributed to the bankability of the project and help to fill a risk capital funding gap. Where the risks of a project seems higher than returns, investments like Akuo Kita underline the importance of a development finance institution such as FMO.