UPDATE – African bank president emphasizes importance of hydro

With construction of the 250-MW Bujagali hydroelectric project as a backdrop, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) emphasized the importance of hydroelectric power to Africa’s sustainable development.

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka visited the Bujagali project October 5 as part of a week-long official visit to Uganda. AfDB is contributing US$139 million in financing for Bujagali and an associated 100-kilometer transmission interconnection project.

Uganda officials formally marked the beginning of construction of Bujagali in August on the Victoria Nile River. Scheduled for completion by 2011, Bujagali is expected to reduce the average cost of Uganda’s electricity by 10 percent and bring an end to load shedding.

�This is the time for Africa to harness its huge hydro energy potential,� Kaberuka said, stressing that the continent must overcome its energy crisis in order to sustain economic growth.

With seven major rivers — Nile, Niger, Congo, Senegal, Orange, Limpopo, and Zambezi — Africa has, so far, exploited only a small portion of its cheaper and cleaner energy resource, Kaberuka said.

The AfDB president said that climate change, the quest for cleaner energy, and Africa’s needs for constant power supply clearly underscore the need to boost investment in the hydropower sector. At the same time, he said, developers must take into account broader economic and social concerns.

He said AfDB is strongly committed to assist member countries in further developing their energy potential.

The AfDB president said every country cannot develop its energy sufficiently to meet its own needs, meaning Africa must develop regional energy pools for economic development.

The African bank joined the European Investment Bank, which provided 100 million euros (US$135.4 million), and the World Bank, which approved US$360 million in loans and guarantees. (HNN 9/14/07)

Uganda’s Parliament last week authorized the government to borrow US$57.63 million from AfDB and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to help finance construction of the Bujagali transmission interconnection, Uganda’s New Vision reported. (HNN 9/17/07) The lenders each are to provide about US$28.8 million, while the government provides US$17 million to compensate people affected by the project.
Adding hydropower remarks.

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