Auma-Solutions for a world in motion
Auma-Solutions for a world in motion

Constructive international networking characterizes  AFRICA 2023, Uganda

Nearly 500 delegates representing 54 nations met beside Lake Victoria, Uganda, from 10 to 12 July, for AFRICA 2023 - the Fourth International Conference and Exhibition on Water Storage and Hydropower Development for Africa. Of the 54 nations represented, 30 were African, and as the conference closed, feedback suggested that this was the most constructive gathering to date for hydropower development in Africa, in terms of new contacts being made, and practical issues being addressed.

The African delegations were generally headed by CEOs of the national utilities, or officers from the ministries of energy or water.

The two major IFIs supporting development across the continent, the World Bank and African Development Bank, were both strongly represented in many of the sessions. On the day preceding the conference, the ESMAP Division of the World Bank hosted a Workshop on Hydropower for representatives of its client countries, and others with significant unexploited hydropower potential; most participants then attended AFRICA 2023.

Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, the Hon Dr Ruth Nankabirwa, was the guest of honour in the Opening Ceremony, and she spoke of the importance of hydropower for Uganda, reminding delegates that 96 per cent of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources, and 80 per cent from hydropower. She described hydro as key to the economic transformation of the country, and she reported on some key policy reforms actioned by her Ministry, some aimed at encouraging more private sector investment.

ICOLD President Michel Lino in his opening underlined ICOLD’s core value of dam safety, saying that it must be the top priority for every engineer. Klaus Jorde, ExCo Secretary of 

IEA-Hydro, gave delegates a global perspective on hydropower, pointing out that according to IEA’s report ‘Net zero by 2050 – a roadmap for the global energy sector’, hydro capacity will need to double by 2050, along with a major increase in solar and wind power. He stressed the need for more storage and pumped-storage, and felt that this was not high enough on the agenda of decision makers.

In the second part of the plenary session, delegates heard of the potential and development plans in three of the 30 African nations present: Cameroon, with a vigorous programme of hydro development under way, and South Sudan and Liberia both with pressing needs to exploit their considerable energy potential further to accelerate socio-economic development.

Adrian Towa, Head of Development of EDC, Cameroon, outlined his country’s plans for further development within its development plan to 2030; he reported that a total of 16 projects had been studied, some of the larger ones on the Sanaga river, others on the border with Congo.

Monie Captan, CEO of the Liberia Electricity, described his Government’s plans to transition to green renewable energy as the country’s primary generation base, and reduce dependence on imported energy. The way forward, he said, would be both hydropower and solar, so the Mt Coffee powerplant is to be expanded, and a cascade of plants is to be developed planned on the St Paul river, starting with a new 150 MW scheme.

Tom Remis, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Dams in South Sudan reported to delegates that in his country the electricity access rate was just 7 per cent, and annual per capita consumption just 1-3 kWh. The country’s complete lack of power infrastructure was main obstacle to socio-economic development. His presentation then demonstrated the abundant hydro potential of Liberia, and the identified projects, which could not only meet needs within the country, and also find a market in the East Africa Power Pool. The country is meanwhile currently having to use diesel and heavy fuel oil.

Sessions followed which spanned a wide range of topics aimed to be of practical value to the African delegations. Josephine Ossiya, Financial Director of the Bujagali Energy Ltd, Uganda, led discussions on finance, with participation from the African Development Bank, World Bank, and financial consultants from the private sector.

Many aspects of technology were addressed, from hydropower equipment, civil engineering and dam safety, to sedimentation management, flood control and climate change adaptation and resilience. A session was dedicated to the Ruzizi III trinational scheme, with its many unique characteristics; it will benefit a total of 30 million people in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. Another session focused on some other major African cross-border projects, regions, such as Baynes and Rusumo Falls. There was a general session on dam safety, bringing together many renowned ICOLD experts, and another specifically on dam safety in the Nile Basin.

A full report of all sessions is being compiled in collaboration with those who chaired them, and will be published in the next issues of Hydropower & Dams.

Click here to view Hydropower & Dams first report and Kampala Declaration +

Meanwhile, a photo gallery appears in the Past Events section of this website, with scenes from the opening plenary, the technical sessions, social events, and exhibition. More pictures will be posted in the following days.

Click here to view AFRICA 2023 Photo Gallery +