World Bank chief speaks on “energy poverty” in Africa

By Aissatou Diallo

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has revealed that African leaders have approached him requesting more support to provide baseload power in their countries. Kim, who was speaking at the recently concluded World Bank meeting held in Bali in mid October this year, disclosed that African leaders resent being instructed by international financial institutions, like the World Bank, to stop using fossil fuels for baseload electricity.

“Leaders across the developing world say they have no responsibility for putting the carbon in the air and shouldn’t be told to stop developing  baseload energy because they can’t use a single drop of fossil fuel for their energy needs,” Kim says, adding that what he is hearing from African leaders and people in industry sounds compelling to him.

An estimated 1.1 billion people, 14% of the global population, do not have access to electricity according to the International Energy Agency. The World Bank has announced it will not fund upstream oil and gas projects from 2019 onwards, which follows a similar ban on coal financing.

Map of Africa’s environmental troublemakers, showing who emits the most carbon. Source:

Kim told the Bali meeting that  “the world must listen to the social justice arguments from people in poor countries who have not put any of the carbon in the air and who want to have baseload.” Kim’s statement comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report in May 2018, which claims that climate talks organized by the United Nations ended with “developing countries demanding more clarity from their richer counterparts on when a promised package of US$100 billion in finance will materialize”. Bloomberg reported that “developing nations want more detail on what money is coming before signing up to the Paris rules.”

The economic think-tank, Standard and Poor also released a report in 2017 questioning where the proposed US$100 billion would come from, citing a need for many countries to increase budgets and debt burdens to finance their pledges. The report by Standard and Poor states  that “it is very unlikely that governments would be willing, or able, to risk deteriorating their creditworthiness by stretching their budgets and debt burdens to fund the implementation costs.”

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