* Please scroll down to view a selection of AFRICA 2017 photos *

Practical aspects of hydro and water storage discussed at AFRICA 2017, Marrakech,
under the High Patronage of H.M. King Mohammed VI

AFRICA 2017 – Water Storage and Hydropower Development for Africa, which took place from 14 to 16 March in Marrakech, brought together experts from 67 countries to focus on practical issues relating to water resources development, climate resilience, and hydropower in Africa.

The conference, jointly hosted by Aqua-Media International of the UK and the International Commission on Large Dams, was honoured by the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and was also strongly supported by Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, ONEE, and the Moroccan National Committee on Large Dams. A total of 703 delegates participated. Of the 67 countries represented, 31 were African nations, which led to a constructive international dialogue and exchange of experience.

Opening Ceremony
Her Excellency Mme Charafat Afailal, Morocco’s Minister of Water, was Guest of Honour in the opening plenary session. She outlined Morocco’s policy in the field of water resources management, and stressed the importance of hydro as the leading source of renewable energy, drawing attention to its multiple benefits, and the need to support its development even more intensely. She drew attention to the huge unexploited potential in Africa, and the fact that about 50 per cent of the African population were still in the dark, waiting for a reliable supply of electricity.
In commending the initiative of the conference, she expressed the hope that it would help encourage a new African strategy to enhance capacity and ensure sustainable development of the continent.

In her welcome address, Aqua-Media Director Alison Bartle drew attention to Morocco’s expertise in water resources development and management, mentioning that irrigation systems in the country dated back to the 12th century. She also noted the great progress which had been made in the country, over many years, in the development of water infrastructure, encouraged by successive Heads of State. As a result, today Morocco had expertise in large dams of all types, she observed, and was continuing to devote efforts to training and capacity building.
Bartle commented that the policies of the African Union, the United Nations, the international financing agencies, the professional associations, and many governments throughout the African continent had already set the scene for an era of accelerated development of water and energy schemes, including a number of major transboundary schemes which were part of the PIDA initiative. The mission of AFRICA 2017, she continued, was not to repeat well known statistics about what was lacking, but to try to do something about it through practical dialogue.

She then gave a brief preview of the conference programme, highlighting particularly the importance of discussion on operation and maintenance, capacity building, climate resilience and the role and benefits of small hydro for rural areas, alongside the major regional projects.

ICOLD President, Prof Anton Schleiss of Switzerland, spoke of the role and benefits of large multipurpose dams in his presentation, which predicted that this would be a century for an equitable increase in welfare for Africa, thanks to the further development of dams and reservoirs. He outlined the challenges relating to water supply worldwide, and stressed the importance of a nexus approach to improving water, energy and food security on a global level. He presented statistics showing trends in the development of dams over the past decades, underlining their key role in economic prosperity and cultural wealth.

Dr Linus Mofor from the African Climate Policy Centre at UNECA outlined the activities of his organization. He gave a talk on ACPC’s plans and policies to influence, strengthen and enable the transition to climate-resilient development in Africa. He described the Climate for Development (ClimDev) programme, which, he pointed out, was unique in bringing together climate information and development strategies. The leaders of this programme, ECA, African Development Bank and the African Union Commission bring their respective strengths and expertise to the initiative. Dr Mofor also referred to a programme known as WISER, that is Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa. This has the very practical role of modernizing national meteorological services, and building collaboration between global, regional and national meteorological services. Another programme described by Mofor was AFRI-RES (Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility), supported and led by the World Bank, African Development Bank, Nordic Development Fund, African Union, and UNECA. This work programme could be summed up, he said, by the mission statement: ‘Make good investment decisions today so that infrastructure can deliver – both in today’s and tomorrow’s climate’.

Rana Pratap Singh from the Renewable and Rural Energy Unit of UNIDO, spoke of UNIDO’s mandate to create inclusive and sustainable industrial development. He focused on the importance of small hydro for rural development, and in the context of small hydro he outlined the support and capacity building which UNIDO could offer for countries, from establishing national road maps through to project preparation and researching appropriate funding.

Niels Nielsen, Joint Secretary of the International Energy Agency, outlined the IEA’s various work programmes, drawing attention to particular aspects which had relevance for Africa. He began by outlining the overall vision of IEA Hydropower, to facilitate worldwide recognition of hydropower as a well established and socially desirable energy technology. The objective of the work programmes was to encourage countries to cooperate in innovative research.

ICOLD Secretary-General Michel de Vivo described ICOLD’s role, including various capacity building initiatives. He noted that today there were more than 20 member countries in the African region, and added that this would increase shortly when Angola and DRC joined. He then referred to the Declaration ‘Dams and Hydropower for African Sustainable Development’ which had been launched by ICOLD together with the African Union in 2008, with the aim of boosting hydropower development on the continent. He noted that this had apparently been successful, as hydro capacity in Africa had doubled over the past 10-15 years. He referred to the vital role which dams and hydro would play in the future, in the context of meeting the water and energy needs of the world population, which was expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Elhadj L. Fofana, the High Commissioner of OMVG (Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Gambie/the Gambia River Basin Organisation), outlined the mission of his organization, and described some of the recent and current transboundary hydro projects, such as the 240 MW Kaléta scheme in Guinea, benefitting neighbouring countries. At present OMVG countries benefitting from the schemes were Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Senegal, but future transmission links would also benefit Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. Fofana stressed the important role of these hydro schemes in enhancing climate resilience.

Nicolas Sans of the World Bank spoke of the increasing support of the Bank for project development in some of the less developed countries of Africa with limited institutional capacity, volatile economic landscapes, unstable political systems and in some cases where the citizens are suffering situations of conflict and violence. These countries are classified as ‘FCV’ (fragile, conflict and violence), and based on his operational experience, Sans described the special challenges associated with implementing hydro projects, especially in cases where violence and conflict were on-going. Of 32 FCV countries identified by the Bank worldwide, Sans said, 19 were in Africa. Despite the obvious challenges, there was strong international commitment to continue working in these regions, he added.
Sans referred to the World Bank’s recently completed report on hydropower for Sub-Saharan Africa, which indicated that around 270 GW of hydro potential existed in the region, of which nearly 50 per cent was economically as well as technically feasible for development. He discussed the many ways in which hydropower development could improve the situation for the FCV countries, improving energy security, creating employment opportunities and increasing prospects for peace and stability. Hydro projects could also foster economic partnerships through regional collaboration. Sans added that successful hydro projects should also be regarded as ‘knowledge assets’. The ‘learning by doing’ approach could cultivate a system of knowledge retention, and build capacity for fragile countries. In conclusion, Sans told delegates that the World Bank was scaling up its global support over the next three years through a record commitment of US$75 billion for the IDA (the World Bank’s fund for the low income countries); of this, resources allocated to FCV countries would double, to around US$14 billion. One of the many goals of this new funding cycle is to achieve an additional 5 GW of renewable energy, and hydropower has been identified to contribute to this objective in strategic regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Efforts were to be made to encourage private investment, Sans added.

Jamal Mafoud, President of the Moroccan National Committee on Large Dams, reiterated the need to increase the development of renewable energy resources, saying that although there was often a perception that investment costs could be high, in African countries there was a great variety of situations as regards the energy mix and production costs, with some countries depending on expensive fossil fuels.

Sessions and workshops
A total of 23 sessions and workshops during the three days focused on technical, financial, economic, environmental and social aspects of water resources and hydropower development, highlighting the needs and challenges for Africa, as well as development opportunities and recent achievements. Sessions were devoted to issues of particular relevance to Africa, such as hydrology, flood management, climate resilience, dam safety, rural electrification, sedimentation issues, project finance, contractual issues, and capacity building.

Civil engineering sessions focused on issues relating to the design and construction of dams, materials for dams, gates and flood discharge works, and there were two workshops. One focused on small dams, highlighting their benefits but also challenges relating to economic, environmental and safety issues. The other discussed dam safety guidelines and regulatory frameworks, and provided a preview of guidelines to be issued soon by ICOLD.

In the session on dam design and construction, five of the six presentations dealt with the need to modify designs during construction; in one case a dam had to be modified significantly because of geological problems encountered during work on the foundations. This led to agreement that care should be taken in conducting adequate geological investigations, using experienced and talented geologists.

Four of the five talks on materials related to RCC dams, and began with an overview of progress in RCC dam construction over 25 years, by Dr Malcolm Dunstan; he also commented on possible trends over the next 25 years. Another paper focused on the use of post-tensioned anchors to limit the effects of alkali aggregate reaction at the Nalubaale dam in Uganda; and, a presentation on geomembranes referred to the cofferdam at Gibe III, where a zig-zag geomembrane had been used in the centre of the dam. It was pointed out that such an arrangement could also be considered for a permanent structure.

In the session on environmental and social aspects, it was agreed that it is often the concerns of local and international communities that delay or permanently stop the development of much needed water infrastructure projects. It is therefore imperative to implement the E&S measures correctly at each stage of planning, development and commissioning. In regions where the need for energy and water are most acute, a temptation may exist to view E&S investments as an optional luxury during the planning stage. But as speakers indicated, access to investment finance and the long-term consequences of sedimentation caution against this. The presentations also made clear that the effective management of complex environmental and social issues requires multidisciplinary approaches and expertise well beyond the traditional functions of biologists and anthropologists. Engineering, project management, economics, chemical analysis and climate science were among the themes raised in the session.

A number of sessions focused on hydropower technology, and these covered research and recent developments in hydraulic machinery; operation and maintenance; pumped storage schemes; and, small hydro technology.

Regional sessions devoted to north, central, west, southern and eastern Africa gave an opportunity to hear of some of the major schemes currently under way or recently completed (including, for example, Kaléta in Guinea, the Tsate project in Mozambique, Lom Pangar in Cameroon, the reconstruction of Mount Coffee in Liberia, and many others), as well as projects identified for implementation in the coming years.

Among the key messages of the conference were: the importance of climate resilience strategies for all nations; the need for enhanced attention on operation and maintenance at existing hydro plants and dams; the benefits of regional collaboration, especially for large trans-boundary hydro schemes; and, the beneficial role of small schemes for rural development.

Representatives of various regional organizations joined the discussions at the conference, including Energy Great Lakes, PEAC, OMVG, the Nile Basin Initiative and the Zambezi river authority.

Side events
The conference was preceded by a two-day seminar organized by the World Bank which dealt with approaches to project financing in the context of uncertainty, specifically climate uncertainty, one of the most dominant concerns today for the water and energy sectors.

Another event preceding AFRICA 2017 was a one-day training course, organized by the company Learning Hydro, on small hydro, which was attended by 44 participants. They learned to design their own hydro plant within a day.

Networking, social events and sponsorship
The Technical Exhibition showcased innovations in the hydropower, dam engineering and energy sectors. A total of 82 organizations participated. All the lunch and refreshment breaks took part in the two exhibition halls, providing plenty of opportunities for delegates to inter-act with the exhibitors. The exhibition remained open for a networking party after the conference sessions on 15 March.

Students and young engineers were encouraged to attend AFRICA 2017, many being assisted by the AMI Hydropower Foundation.

Simultaneous interpretation was available throughout the conference, generously co-sponsored by Tractebel Engie – Coyne et Bellier. Abstracts of all papers were produced by Aqua-Media in both languages.

The AFRICA 2017 venue (the Palmeraie Congress Centre) was generously co-sponsored by GE Renewable Energy; the company also contributed to the programme, and held a ‘cocktail and learn’ event during the conference.

This conference is the second in the series organized by Aqua-Media International, publisher of the International Journal on Hydropower & Dams with ICOLD. The first was held in 2013 at the Congress Centre of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

A full social programme was organized, including a welcome reception and supper in the setting of a nomad camp, in the midst of the Palm Grove near to the conference. This was co-hosted by Andritz, and delegates were welcomed during the evening by Mr Wilhelm Karanitsch.

The end of the successful conference was celebrated with a Gala Farewell Dinner generously hosted by the Moroccan Committee on Dams, at the Beldi Country Club. Delegates were greeted by Mr Khalid El Ghomari, Secretary-General of the Moroccan Committee, and thanks were expressed on behalf of the international participants by Alison Bartle of Aqua-Media, and ICOLD Secretary-General Michel de Vivo.

A full report with detailed outcomes of all the sessions will appear in Issue 3 of the International Journal on Hydropower & Dams, which will be published in June.

A gallery of several hundred photos from the sessions, side events and social functions will be posted on this website shortly, and may be downloaded by delegates who attended AFRICA 2017.

Guest of Honour at the AFRICA 2017 Opening Ceremony was H.E. Mme Charafat Afailal, Minister of Water of the Kingdom of Morocco. She drew attention to the huge unexploited hydro potential in Africa, noting that it was the leading source of renewable energy and could bring multiple benefits to the African population.
ICOLD President, Prof Anton Schleiss of Switzerland, stressed the importance of the nexus approach in improving water, energy and food security, during his opening address to the conference. ICOLD was co-host of the event, with Aqua-Media International. Prof Schleiss also chaired a session on hydrology and climate issues.

Aqua~Media Director, Alison Bartle, outlined the progress which had been made over the past 15 years in African hydropower development, but also drew attention to remaining challenges. She said that development policies of the African Union, UN agencies, IFIs and others were in place to accelerate further development, and the mission of the conference was to discuss practical aspects of project implementation.
President of the Morrocan Committee on Large Dams, Jamal Mafoud, spoke of the economic advantages of exploiting hydropower to the maximum possible extent in African nations, to avoid the use of expensive fossil fuels.
ICOLD Secretary-General Michel de Vivo described steps taken by ICOLD to encourage further development of hydro in Africa, through the work of its members, and also the launch of a Declaration in 2008 on ‘Dams and Hydropower for African Sustainable Development’.
Dr Linus Mofor, from the African Climate Policy Centre of UNECA, outlined his organization’s policies and plans to strengthen climate resilience across the African continent, during the opening plenary session.
Nicolas Sans of the World Bank spoke of the challenges of hydropower and water resources development in countries experiencing conflict and violence. He reported on the World Bank’s increasing support for FCV (fragile, conflict and violence) countries.
Elhadj L. Fofana, High Commissioner of the OMVG (the Gambia river basin organization), described some recent and current transboundary schemes, benefitting multiple countries in the Gambia river basin.
General view of the opening plenary session of AFRICA 2017. The conference was attended by 703 participants representing 67 nations (including 31 African countries).
Rana Pratap Singh, of the Renewable and Rural Energy Unit of UNIDO, spoke of his organization’s mission to create inclusive and sustainable industrial development, and demonstrated ways in which UNIDO could offer partnership in the development of small hydro.
After the first part of the plenary opening session, H.E. Minister Charafat Afailal officially opened the AFRICA 2017 Exhibition, and walked around to meet the exhibitors, accompanied by ICOLD President Anton Schleiss and Secretary Michel de Vivo of ICOLD.
Ahmed Chraibi, Independent Consultant, Morocco, chaired the first technical session, which reflected progress in water resources development in his country. There were presentations from the Ministry of Energy, Mining, Water and Environment, and from the national water and power utility ONEE.
Luciano Canale, Senior Hydropower Specialist at the World Bank, chaired a session on financial, legal and contractual aspects.
A panel discussion followed the paper presentations on financial issues, also chaired by Luciano Canale, who introduced the discussion by outlining the World Bank’s recent report ‘Hydropower for Sub-Saharan Africa’. Experts on the panel discussed the different approaches to financing in China, Ethiopia and Turkey, and there was also input from private developer Joule Africa, UK, and African Infrastructure Investment Managers, South Africa.

ICOLD Hon President Adama Nombre of Burkina Faso (shown right), with Samuel Ndam of the Electricity Development Corporation, Cameroon.

A session and panel discussion on climate resilience, which was chaired by Pravin Karki of the World Bank (shown right). This included discussion on the World Bank’s guidelines on climate change and natural disasters, presented by Bruno Trouille of Mott MacDonald (shown far left).

ICOLD Hon President, Prof Luis Berga of Spain, giving a talk on water and flood trends in the context of climate change, during the session on hydrology and climate issues.

Claude Kayitenkore, Director of Energy Great Lakes (a trinational organization for developments in DRC, Rwanda and Burundi). He described contractual aspects of the Ruzizi cascade development, and also participated in the session on developments in Central Africa, where he gave an overview of schemes in the region.
Michael Abebe of ENTRO, Ethiopia (an organization focusing on dam safety), co-chaired a workshop on dam safety guidelines and regulatory frameworks, and also chaired the regional session on developments in East Africa.
ICOLD Vice President Zhou Jianping, Chief Engineer of Power China, who outlined his country’s approach to project financing during a panel discussion.
J. Teyssieux of Tractebel Engie, France, and M. N’Fah Fofana, Director of Energy, Hydraulics and Environment at ACGPMP, Guinea, during the regional session on West Africa.
Prof David Williams, of Learning Hydro, UK, chairing a session on small hydro technology. With Co-Director of Learning Hydro, Gordon Black, he also ran a one-day training workshop on small hydro before the conference.

Steven Usher of Aqua-Media International and Lori Nielsen of the International Energy Agency, co-chairing a session on environmental and social aspects. The session included talks on managing and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and system-scale planning of hydropower, as well as lessons learned from the construction of projects in Cameroon.

Daniel Paschini of EDF-GEH, France, chairing a session on hydraulic and electrical machinery, which focused on recent research and development, and included some case studies of African projects.

Dr Malcolm Dunstan of MD&A, UK, and ICOLD Vice President Michel Lino of ISL, France, co-chairing a session on materials for civil engineering structures. Several papers focused on RCC dams, and Dr Dunstan reviewed progress in this field over the past 25 years.

The panel of speakers for the session on operation and maintenance, chaired by Bill Hakin of Manitoba Hydro International, Canada (who has been leading the Project Implementation Unit at the Mount Coffee rehabilitation scheme in Liberia). He is shown on the right. Beside him is Luciano Canale, who gave a talk about the World Bank’s perspective on securing long-term O&M in the SSA hydropower sector.
ICOLD Hon President Adama Nombre, of Burkina Faso, chairing a session on capacity building. He introduced the session by outlining ICOLD’s capacity building plan. There were talks on training programmes in the USA, Morocco and various European countries.
Co-chairs of a session on sedimentation management: Sultan Alam, Consultant, France (shown left); and, Dr George Annandale, Consultant, USA.

Dr Robin Charlwood, USA, and Louis Hattingh, South Africa, two of the three co-chairs of the workshop on dam safety guidelines and regulatory frameworks.
Delegates are entertained by Moroccan musicians during the welcome reception on 14 March, which took place in the setting of a nomad camp.
Mr Wilhelm Karanitsch, Managing Director of Andritz Hydro, South Africa, greets delegates at the welcome reception, which Andritz co-sponsored.
A team of Moroccan acrobats entertain delegates during the buffet supper at the AFRICA 2017 Welcome Reception.
Delegates also had the opportunity for networking with camels, during the welcome reception.
Delegates visit the stand of GE Renewable Energy, during one of the conference refreshment breaks. The company was the generous co-sponsor of the AFRICA 2017 venue. GE also contributed to several of the technical sessions.
The stand of the Moroccan Committee on Large Dams, at the AFRICA 2017 exhibition.

Delegates arriving for the Farewell Dinner enjoy apéritifs in one of the courtyards of the Beldi Country Club.

Mr Khalid El Ghomari, Secretary-General of the Moroccan Committee on Large Dams, welcomes AFRICA 2017 delegates to the Farewell Dinner, which his Committee sponsored and co-hosted.

Musical entertainment during the Farewell Dinner, and the banner acknowledging the generous co-sponsorship of Moroccan Committee members SGTM, Sintram, Bioui Travaux, Houar, STAM and Perla.

General view of the Farewell Gala Dinner, which took place at the elegant Beldi Country Club, in Marrakech. The dinner was generously sponsored by the Moroccan National Committee on Large Dams.
Dr Harald Kreuzer (who chaired a session on dam safety) and Dr George Annandale (who co-chaired the session on sedimentation) relaxing at the Farewell Dinner.

The team of ASK Event Management, UK, who took care of much of the administration for AFRICA 2017, including registration, accommodation, tours and liaison with local suppliers.
Delegates working at a two-day side event preceding the conference, organized by the World Bank, which focused on financing hydropower in the context of uncertainty, specifically climate change.
A pre-conference seminar, organized by Prof David Williams and Gordon Black of Learning Hydro, during which 44 international participants learned to design a small hydro plant in one day.

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