The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) is highlighting the need for clean water and electricity in Africa and how development of the continent’s significant hydro potential could meet those needs.
The commission issued a declaration, “Dams and Hydropower for African Sustainable Development,” at its 80th anniversary celebration in Paris in November.
The declaration said less than 7 percent of Africa’s hydro potential has been developed and that 65 percent of the population does not have access to electricity. In addition, the declaration noted only 4 percent of Africa’s fresh water potential is being exploited; only 40 percent of the rural population has a potable and safe water supply.
�We firmly believe that there is a need to develop hydropower that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable,� the declaration said. �But the above-quoted manifestations of goodwill will not be sufficient in themselves. Hydropower projects are capital intensive. Tangible actions in the financial mechanisms, but also a political will and serious commitment by all the potential stakeholders, are required to develop sustainable hydropower projects in Africa.�
ICOLD said multipurpose hydro schemes have a crucial role to play in promoting water security, providing the double benefit of water storage capacity and power generation. The declaration concluded that conditions are ripe for hydro development in Africa, with a favorable political climate and support from international institutions and lenders.