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Tuesday 21 September 2021
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‘Africa’s hydropower boom depends on joint grid investments’

African energy experts have recommended a new protocol to guide the development of regional hydro-power projects in Africa and urged states to invest more in regional power pools, PANA reported Sunday.

The Hydro-power for Sustainable Development Conference, which closed here this weekend, endorsed a four-point action plan for the development of Africa’s hydro-power sector, emphasing investments in regional power pools and private sector involvement in the projects.

The conference attracted participants from Water and Energy ministries and experts from 32 countries, regional hydro-power pools, the representatives from the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

African countries are currently planning the building of regional power pools to enhance the distribution of hydro-power energy from areas of absolute abundance to areas facing a shortage of the critical resource for economic development.

The sustainable hydro-power conference called for measures to encourage the regional development of hydro-power projects, creating business friendly environments to enable finance and investment into these projects.

The conference also called for a protocol to guide and evaluate hydro-power project development and, in the interest of capacity building, establish in Ethiopia a continental centre of excellence on sustainable hydro-power development.

It also called for accelerated and harmonised regional hydro-power projects. These should be river-basin hydro-power projects and continental projects, such as regional power pools.

It said the private sector’s involvement in these regional hydro-power projects should be encouraged, and the participants also emphasized the need to define the role of the private sector and the public sector in those projects.

The Addis Ababa-based East African Power Pool (EAPP), whose main aim is to build shared grid interconnections to enable this flow of power from the areas of abundance to deficit areas, is one of the notable examples of the regional power inter-connectors.

A Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) approved the East African Power Pool, to cover its member countries.

In East Africa, seven East African countries – Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan are members. Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti and Libya are yet to join the power pool, a fact that is said to delay the off-take of the project.

Several multilateral financiers, the European Union, the African Development Bank, the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are currently funding a research on the integration of the regional electricity markets. The EU has given US$4 million to the project.

There are plans to develop an Eastern African Power Market Development Plan under the EAPP.

Separately, a plan to transfer electricity from Zambia to Kenya through Tanzania, known as the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya inter-connector, estimated to cost US$860 million, has been in the pipeline.

The Addis Ababa conference, organised by the International Hydro-power Association, called for the strengthening of regional power transmission systems and sought measures to ensure that project impact assessment and related management plans are responsibly implemented.

Participants also urged countries sharing common river resources, such as those of the River Nile, to encourage cordial relations between riparian states and pass benefits to local communities.


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