Click here to view our AFRICA 2013 Photo Gallery

The following first report gives an overview of the opening sessions of AFRICA 2013, and a preliminary ‘photo gallery’ from the event follows the report below. More detailed coverage will appear in Issue 3 of Hydropower & Dams, based on outcomes from the individual sessions.

International experts call for accelerated hydro and water resources
development at AFRICA 2013 in Addis Ababa

Practical aspects of advancing hydropower and water resources development in Africa were discussed by about 600 participants from 67 countries, at AFRICA 2013 – Water Storage and Hydropower Development for Africa, which took place at the African Union Congress Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 16 to 18 April.
Co-hosted by Aqua-Media International Ltd (Hydropower & Dams), the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) and the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), the event brought together ministerial delegations, utility CEOs, officers of UNECA, leading experts from the IFIs, Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Secretaries of the water- and energy-related professional associations, ambassadors, eminent engineering consultants, researchers, leading contractors and equipment suppliers.
The Conference was held under the auspices of the African Union Commission, and with the personal patronage of H.E. Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy, who presided at the Opening and Closing Sessions and Conference Dinner, and also toured the AFRICA 2013 international exhibition.
Two Deputy Prime Ministers of Ethiopia participated at the Plenary Opening Ceremony: H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, who is also Minister of Education, and H.E. Debretsion Gebremichael, who is also Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

His Excellency Minister Demeke Mekonnen
referred to hydropower as “one of the most viable options for African countries to meet the twin requirements of sustainability and self reliance”. He noted that hydro had been playing a significant role in transforming world economies, adding that Africa had still only exploited less than 7 per cent of its vast hydro potential, which he said was “almost nothing”. The remaining potential was equivalent to two-thirds of global untapped economically feasible potential, he said. He stressed in particular the role hydro could play in rural electrification: “without this, we cannot contemplate achieving the Millennium Development Goals”. He also pointed out that hydropower did not represent a stand-alone investment, in view of the other multiple benefits which storage schemes could offer. In his conclusion, Minister Demeke Mekonnen referred to the Ethiopian Government’s commitment to develop hydro both for domestic consumption and export, and he gave details of the country’s Green Growth Strategy, which aimed to achieve zero net emissions of carbon by 2025; this, he explained, was based on three pillars:
• generation from clean and renewable resources (mainly hydro but also other renewable energy sources);
• maximum use of electricity to meet various energy needs; and,
• reforestation of degraded land, to create a large-scale carbon sink.
H.E. Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy, spoke of Africa’s high rate of economic advancement, resulting largely from agricultural and industrial development. However, he pointed out that there were many challenges, including, for example, the hydrological variability in many African nations, exacerbated today by climate change. He felt the AFRICA 2013 Conference was very timely, in bringing together experts to address the many challenges in the field of water resources and hydropower development. The conference outcomes would be especially useful for Ethiopia, he said, where so many major schemes were under construction and planned. Minister Alemayehu referred to the PIDA initiative (Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa), pointing out that the priority projects would have far-reaching impacts on socio-economic development and sustainability, and he called for decision-makers and financial institutions to work towards removing institutional and regulatory barriers, and to mobilizing the necessary funds, using a combination of local, public and external sources. He stressed that Ethiopia was very much committed to exploiting its vast hydroelectric potential as a national priority, and to becoming an energy hub for East Africa.

H.E. Prof Mamounata Belem Ouedraogo, Minister of Water Resources, Hydraulic Infrastructure and Sanitation of Burkina Faso, set out some fundamental issues regarding water resources development in her country and Africa as a whole. In Burkina Faso, she said, there was an urgent need to improve water infrastructure, and in particular to construct more dams and reservoirs.
“Water and energy are the clearly the main vehicles to advance development”, she said. The fact that a Ministry, dedicated specifically to water and sanitation access, had been created in her country would be helpful in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, she felt. She stressed in particular the need for a greater sense of integration with other countries, to achieve development goals.

H.E. Dr Elham M.A. Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission, expressed gratitude to those who had travelled from all corners of the world to contribute to the success of the conference. She spoke of the relevance of the conference sessions to the PIDA initiative, which was being led by the AUC, UNECA and the African Development Bank.
Commissioner Ibrahim drew attention to the fact that in 18 per cent of African countries, energy access was still less than 10 per cent. She added that Africa needed to commission about 7000 MW of new capacity annually; only an average of 1000 MW/year had been commissioned in recent years, she said. “At the present rates of electrification, most African countries will not be able to reach universal access to electricity, even by 2050”, she cautioned.

ICOLD President Adama Nombre said that water storage and hydropower were at the heart of progress and welfare for the people and nations of Africa. He outlined the main global water challenges, and then turned to the role and benefit of multipurpose dams. He said that five years after the World Declaration for Africa (launched by ICOLD in 2008), a new pace of development was now occuring in Africa in the field of water storage and  hydropower development, with large projects under way throughout the continent and with the definition of a vision, objectives and Programme at continental level through the PIDA initiative of the African Union.
Nombre pointed out that the host country, Ethiopia, was showing the way for progress, through its outstanding achievements over the last decade in implementing hydropower and water storage capacity,

Ato Miheret Debebe, CEO of EEPCo, discussed challenges, opportunities and future prospects for the global and African power sectors; he drew attention to Ethiopia’s potential to become a “renewable energy hub” not only for the region, but also beyond. In this respect, the market opportunities for Europe, Asia, Africa and North America could represent up to US$4 billion/year, he suggested.

Alison Bartle, Director of Aqua-Media International, in her introduction to AFRICA 2013 and the individual conference sessions, began by commending Ethiopia as the leading African country for current hydro development, with more than 7000 MW of hydro capacity currently under construction.
She felt that there was no more inspiring venue to hold the event than the headquarters of the African Union. “We are sitting in a place where African Heads of State meet, where policies and strategies are adopted, and where major decisions are taken affecting the future and well being of this Continent”, she said.
Of the 14 objectives of the AU, she drew attention to the following three, which were of direct relevance to the themes of AFRICA 2013:
• to promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples;
• to advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology; and,
• to encourage international cooperation.

It was in the field of water resources and hydropower development, Bartle said, that international cooperation among African nations was proving to be so important and so effective. Through the work of the regional power pools, river basin organizations, and other regional development organizations, it was clear that collaboration on data collection, planning, development, environmental protection, water use and on power trading would enhance efficiency, progress in development, and harmony between the nations.
Most of the priority regional projects planned as part of the PIDA initiative, Bartle pointed out, featured prominently in the conference programme, in the four regional sessions.
The number of delegates (about 600) and 67 countries represented, she said, underlined the international commitment to help Africa achieve its development goals. She drew attention to some of leading world experts in various fields from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas who would be contributing to the technical sessions

ICOLD Secretary-General Michel de Vivo chaired the second part of the Plenary Session. In his introductory talk he commended Ethiopia’s water resources development programme, pointing out that the country was an example for Africa.  He said: “Ethiopia knows how to secure the necessary investment, how to finance water infrastructure, how to ensure energy independence, and how to establish regional stability by exporting power to neighbouring countries. He referred to the World Declaration on Hydropower for Sustainable Development in Africa, which ICOLD had coordinated and launched in 2008. It has been co-signed by other water- and energy-related professional associations. The Declaration had ended with the statement that the time is ripe for development in Africa, in view of the favourable political context, the fact that IFIs were now engaging in dam and hydropower development, and power interconnections across the continent had been studied and financed. The AFRICA 2013 Conference, De Vivo said, represented the next important step forward.

Dr Jacques Moulot of the African Development Bank gave an overview of the PIDA initiative, drawing attention to the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PAP), to be implemented by 2020, which includes 15 integrated regional energy projects, nine of which are large hydropower schemes. Other projects, he said, include power transmission corridors and inter-regional connections. He listed the major regional hydropower schemes by region (see also H&D Issue 6, 2012 for full details). Regarding the short-term impact on growth, Moulot said that for each year of delay in PAP implementation, there would be a loss of US$100 billion, and GDP would reduce by 5 per cent per year. The PAP projects together represented 16 per cent of total installed capacity to be added by 2020, he said (about 13.2 GW).
If the PAP projects were to be replaced by conventional (thermal) plant, Moulot said, an additional 41 x 106t of CO2 would be emitted per year, increasing African emissions by some 4 per cent.
In conclusion he described PIDA as a “transformative development programme for Africa, which would have a major socio-economic impact on GDP, industries employment and the environment”. Nearly all African countries (at least 34) would benefit directly or indirectly, as buyers or sellers of electricity, he said.

World Water Council President Prof Benedito Braga said that events such as AFRICA 2013 could create a common ground for dialogue, and help to convince decision-makers at the highest level of the importance of taking action and preparing the world for the challenges ahead. “The past is a poor guide to an uncertain future”, he said. He drew attention to some of the major world water challenges, which were increasing demands on water, and called for a new approach, to regard water as an engine for social and economic development.
He stressed that water security was paramount for Africa’s future, as water availability impacts directly on politics, health, economic growth, energy, food security and the environment. Braga referred to the World Water Council’s input to the last General Assembly of the United Nations, where the Council had called for global recognition of the importance of ensuring water security. The Council, Prof Braga said, had launched a report entitled ‘Water for Growth and Development in Africa’, which conveyed a global message, and stressed the need for more investment in water resources development.

Alessandro Palmieri, Lead Dam Specialist of the World Bank, spoke of the indirect benefits of water infrastructure. “Major water infrastructure has been the platform for the development of now-rich countries, and not a single country has developed without it”, he said, adding that investments in water infrastructure should also be used as an opportunity for local development. He stressed that major investments in infrastructure brought both direct and indirect benefits, but that the latter, which had been at the base of all developed countries, were often disregarded, which should not be the case. Palmieri referred to a World Bank publication on the indirect economic impacts of dams, which had been based on case studies from India, Egypt and Brazil. He explained that indirect economic effects were: those derived from linkages between sectors of production directly affected by the project and the rest of the economy; and, those derived from expenditures by households out of extra income generated by the project.

Dr Seleshi Bekele, Senior Water Resources and Climate Specialist at the African Climate Policy Centre of UNECA, spoke of the importance for Africa of improving adaptive capacity to climate change; this was a major priority for survival, he felt. He stressed that water infrastructure was key to this issue, because of the climate extremes and hydrological disasters which occurred on the African continent.
Challenges to achieving greater resilience to climate change effects, he continued, were exacerbated by a lack of data and analytical capacity, inadequate management of transboundary waterways, and low per capita storage facilities. He later gave a keynote address, in the session on climate issues, which he also chaired.

Dr Stephen Maxwell Donkor of UNECA-SID highlighted the fact that 35 per cent of Africans had no access to safe drinking water, and that there was less than 40 per cent sanitation coverage in many African nations. He added that 80 per cent of diseases were water-related, accounting for most of the deaths of children under five years old.
Many African economies, he said, were extremely vulnerable to hydrological variability. Available surface water, he said, was concentrated within a few river basins, and greater collaboration was necessary between riparian countries.
Challenges to be addressed included inappropriate governance and institutional arrangements, depletion of water resources through pollution, inadequate investment, securing and retaining skilled and motivated water professionals, and coping with extremes of climate.
Donkor outlined the African Water Vision, in which UNECA was playing an important role, along with the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank. Regional cooperation would be essential, he said, in meeting the objective of providing safe and adequate water and sanitation for all, and thus enhancing economic growth.

ICID Vice President Dr Adama Sangare spoke of irrigation and food security challenges for Africa. He pointed out that 239 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa were undernourished, with malnutrition affecting about one-third of the continent. He said that while Africa had huge potential in terms of water resources and land, there were geographical and economic challenges: 60 international river basins, 15 land-locked countries, and more than 20 countries with economies of less than US$5 billion. Less than 5 per cent of potential cropland was under irrigation, In this respect, he underlined the need for increased water storage; adding that at present there was insufficient storage capacity “to buffer hydrological shocks”. He said it would be necessary to increase cereal production by 70-80 per cent over the next 25-30 years.

IEA-Hydro Joint Secretary Niels Nielsen gave an outline of the IEA’s Hydropower Technology Roadmap, which had been officially launched at Aqua-Media’s HYDRO 2012 Conference in Bilbao last year. As background to the development of the Hydropower Roadmap (one of several in various fields developed by IEA, following a mandate at a G8 Summit), he explained that the research had aimed to study the lowest cost alternatives to meet certain criteria by 2050, the main one of which was to reduce the increase in global warming by 2º.
He told delegates that the Hydropower Roadmap predicted that hydro generation worldwide would double by 2050 to around 7000 TWh/year, and capacity could reach 2000 GW, mostly at large plants in emerging/developing countries. Challenges, he pointed out, were that large hydro projects were capital-intensive, with long lead times. Returns on investment could vary from year to year, and long tenures were difficult to obtain from commercial banks. Market design, based on marginal running costs, may not deliver the right financial incentives, he added
Nielsen stressed that governments and other stakeholders should establish inventories at river basin level, and that national hydropower targets should be set and tracked. Effective financial models to support hydropower should be provided for developing countries, he added.
He drew attention to the potential for adding low-cost hydro capacity by upgrading existing projects, or retrofitting existing non-hydropower dams.
Nielsen concluded that hydro would remain the largest renewable source of electricity for the foreseeable future, and it would enable economic and social development in the developing countries. Innovative financing options were necessary to hedge against risks.

The Conference had been preceded by three well attended side events: ICOLD experts Dr Robin Charlwood and Dr Paul Roberts had led a seminar on dam safety, with speakers including Dr Harald Kreuzer and Alessandro Palmieri of the World Bank. The European Small Hydropower Association led a training workshop on small hydro, with input from the International Energy Agency. ICOLD’s African Regional Club also held a meeting to exchange experience between the African national committees of ICOLD. ICOLD also held a full-day Board meeting on 15 April, with five Vice-Presidents in attendance.
A total of 20 sessions, panels and workshops dealt with all practical aspects of hydropower and water resources development. Experts from the African Development Bank, UNECA, ICA, the World Bank, Agence Française de Developpement the AU-EU Partnership and EEPCo discussed financial and contractual aspects. World renowned experts gave presentations on dam design (large RCC dams, CFRDs, the use of geomembranes, etc), dam safety (seismic aspects, mitigating the affects of alkali aggregate reaction, surveillance and monitoring techniques), flood discharge works, sedimentation management, climate change, planning, small hydro for rural areas, and hydraulic machinery design, and operation.
Regional sessions on East, Central, West and Southern Africa included reports on some of the major schemes now going ahead in Africa, such as Grand Inga (DRC), Grand Renaissance and Gibe III (Ethiopia), Rusumo Falls (Tanzania), Batoka Gorge (Zambia/Zimbabwe), Kafue Gorge Lower (Zambia), Mphanda Nkuwa (Mozambique), and others.
Various experts contributing to the conference from the professional associations (ICOLD, IEA, ICID and WWC), from UNECA, AfDB, Aqua-Media and from the hydro and dam engineering profession worked together to produce an AFRICA 2013 Final Declaration. Contributions were coordinated by Steve Usher of Aqua-Media, who presented highlights from the draft Declaration during the Closing Ceremony of the Conference. The final version will be available shortly on this website, and is being presented to the African Union.
Philippe Nyongabo, Head of the Energy Division of the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the AU, expressed his appreciation to the international experts who had contributed to the conference, during the closing ceremony, where some of the chairmen also summed up the key findings of their sessions.
The Conference proceedings were officially closed by H.E. Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy.
More than 70 international organizations participated at the AFRICA 2013 Technical Exhibition, which ran concurrently with the conference; the exhibition was well attended throughout the three days, and it was reported that valuable contacts had been made.
Two social events provided extra opportunities for networking: a Welcome Reception at the elegant Sheraton Hotel was co-hosted by Andritz; and a Farewell Dinner, organized and hosted by EEPCo, was held at the Hilton Hotel, and included a spectacular show of national dancing.
A post-Conference study tour took about 70 international participants to visit the Gibe II hydro plant (in operation) and the site of the 1870 MW Gibe III scheme, where there was a chance to see the RCC dam under construction. The technical visits were followed by a cultural programme, including a visits to the famous stelae field at Tiya (where sculptures could be seen which are part of ancient Ethiopian culture), and a rock hewn church at Ajardi Mariam.

A full report of AFRICA 2013 will appear in Issue 3 of Hydropower & Dams, including outcomes of the various sessions prepared by Chairmen and the H&D team. This will also be available as a download from this website for Journal subscribers, AFRICA 2013 delegates, and approved controlled circulation recipients of the Journal in the developing countries.

Click here to view our AFRICA 2013 Photo Gallery

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