East Africa tea project to foster small hydro at tea factories

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced the formal launch November 8 of the Small Hydro for Greening the Tea Industry program to foster development or refurbishment of small hydropower projects at tea factories in eight East African countries.

The World Bank’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) recently approved the program for funding as a full-sized project, co-implemented by UNEP, GEF, and the African Development Bank. The program is to be coordinated by a project management office sponsored by the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA). (HNN 7/11/07)

The program anticipates developing pilot small hydropower projects of from 200 kW to 5 MW and refurbishing existing plants at tea factories across the region belonging to EATTA. It has an initial target to establish six demonstration projects totaling about 10 MW in at least four of the eight countries that have endorsed the program, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

The program eventually is expected to stimulate 82 MW of small hydro capacity and set the stage for development of a local industry for hydro design, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance. The projects are to offer indigenous energy generation, increased rural development, reduced poverty, reduced dependence on imported fossil fuels, and reduced production of greenhouse gases.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the decision by some East African governments to establish power purchase agreements, that enable sale of surplus power to the grid, has opened up new opportunities for clean and renewable energy generation.

A special financing window is being designed to provide incentives for individual tea processing plants to move into green power generation. The EATTA project management office is to support small hydro development and investment promotion by targeted capacity building, technology transfer, and financial incentives.

For information on participating in the program, see the UNEP supported Internet site, http://greeningtea@unep.org, or contact Peerke de Bakker, Program Officer Energy, UNEP/DGEF Greening the Tea Industry in East Africa Project, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya; E-mail: peerke.bakker@unep.org.

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