Trend Watch: Africa as an important hydro market

“Hydropower is the world’s largest source of renewable energy, accounting for almost a fifth of global electricity. Harnessing water responsibly can help get electricity to millions of people. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the energy access deficit is greatest, less than 10% of hydropower potential has been tapped. That represents 400 GW of undeveloped power – enough to quadruple the continent’s existing capacity.”

The above insight comes from the World Bank’s website and provides good perspective on the situation in Africa with regard to hydroelectric power.

The International Energy Agency drills further down into the situation, saying cumulative hydropower capacity was just over 30 GW in 2016 and is expected to grow to about 45 GW by 2022.

Ethiopia appears to be leading the charge in terms of new hydro development with its 6,000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project under construction. In fact, that country has declared a goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2025, and the International Development Association of the World Bank has thrown its support behind this initiative with a US$375 million credit.

Guinea also has significant activity, with work advancing recently on the 450-MW Souapiti hydro project.

For even more information on the situation in Africa, make a note that the June issue of Hydro Review will contain an Africa Market Brief you’ll want to read.

Recognizing the importance of Africa as a hydro market, Voith announced recently that the company has opened its East Africa Hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This new facility will coordinate hydropower projects in nine countries on the east side of the continent.

Ethiopia’s State Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Dr. Frehiwot Woldehanna attended the opening ceremony, along with German Ambassador to Ethiopia Brita Wagener, Voith Hydro Chief Executive Officer Uwe Wehnhardt and guests from business and political arenas.

The company has been “supporting the development of clean energy generation in Africa since the 1940s,” Wehnhardt said. Among Voith’s reasons for choosing Ethiopia as a location include “good market conditions and the proximity to our customers and partners, as well as the hydropower market potential and impressive economic development in recent years,” Wehnhardt said.

Ethiopia has a hydropower potential of 45,000 MW, according to a Voith press release. In addition, hydropower projects under construction in the country will increase installed capacity by 1,500 MW.

For more news and trends regarding hydroelectric power in Africa, click here.

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