By HENRY OWINO (Senior Correspondent)

African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to invest in a $500 million green base-load scheme to be rolled out in 2020.  The bank is also set to yield $5 billion of investment that will help African countries transition from coal and fossil fuel to renewable energy.

The remarks were made by AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina while unveiling ambitious plans to scrap coal power stations across the continent and switch to renewable energy at the just concluded United Nations climate talks in New York, USA.

Addressing a gathering of leaders and officials from almost 200 countries in New York, Adesina outlined efforts to shutter coal-fired power plants and build the “largest solar zone in the world” in the arid Sahel belt.

“Coal is the past, and renewable energy is the future. For us at the African Development Bank, we are getting out of coal,” Adesina told delegates to the Climate Action Summit in Manhattan.

Adesina also talked about plans for $20 billion of investments in solar and clean energy that would provide the region’s 250 million people with 10,000 MW of electricity.

“There’s a reason God gave Africa sunlight,” Adesina said.

Presidents, princes and government ministers from around the world attended the UN’s climate summit, as they faced mounting pressure to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions and slow the global rise in temperatures.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General also took a swipe at the “dying fossil fuel industry” and said it was still not too late to keep the global rise in temperatures below the benchmark figure of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“But it will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society how we grow food, use land, fuel our transport and power our economies,” Guterres said.

“We need to link climate change to a new model of development fair globalization with less suffering, more justice, and harmony between people and the planet,” the UN Secretary-General suggested.

The UN says mankind must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures to stave off the worst case predictions of scientists.

The meeting was part of the run-up to the international climate talks in 2020, which is the next deadline for countries to make significant emissions reduction pledges under the 2015 global warming deal.

AfDB is in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan. The Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.