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Africa adds 2 GW hydropower capacity in 2023 but stark gap remains

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Energy Global,

Africa is poised to harness the power of its water resources to drive sustainable development and economic growth through a transformative clean energy transition. With only 10% of the continent’s hydropower potential harnessed, accelerating hydropower development has never been more urgent.

2023 saw nearly double the hydropower development from the previous year with 2 GW installed across the continent. Key countries that heavily contributed to the development were Nigeria (740 MW), Uganda (408.2 MW), Democratic Republic of Congo (381.7 MW), and Tanzania (261.7 MW).

Public-private partnerships are facilitating the financing and development of major projects. Simultaneously, regional co-operation initiatives are gaining momentum, offering promising avenues for hydropower development. However, limited access to finance, volatility, and governance issues inhibits further infrastructure development.

Recent studies commissioned by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the IHA show there is an urgent need for rehabilitating numerous hydropower plants across Africa and the AfDB is leading efforts to upgrade 12 hydropower plants with a US$1 billion investment.

The latest World Hydropower Outlook, a report by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) (a non-profit member association that includes global hydropower leaders including Lunsemfwa, Mainsteam Energy Solutions Limited, Serengeti Energy, and ZESCO, amongst its African members) shows that Africa has a significant opportunity for growth but urgently needs more global collaboration and investment.

“With significant solar power coming onto the African grids, it is imperative that Africa’s hydropower potential is realised to ensure that reliable electricity supply is balanced and readily available. The development of hydropower in Africa is not just about generating electricity; it's about empowering communities, driving economic growth, and charting a sustainable path towards a clean energy future,” said Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA.

Despite encouraging signals that governments, industry and financiers are developing renewable energies, there is still a considerable deficit in global capacity.

“By fostering strategic partnerships and pioneering investment frameworks, we can unlock the necessary capital to realise Africa's hydropower potential. We need to turn aspirations into action, propelling Africa towards a future powered by clean, sustainable energy,” added Lamu Audu, Managing Director/CEO Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited and Vice-Chair of IHA.

The launch of the Africa section of the 2024 World Hydropower Outlook is a precursor to the release of the full report on 12 June 2024.



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