Continental co-operation on hydropower

Continental ministers of energy and water affairs were to co-operate at a conference on developing hydropower’s potential to provide affordable energy to Africans, Minerals and Energy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said on Monday.


“I believe it is the first time that ministers of water and ministers of energy on the continent of Africa will sit together in deliberations on this issue.


“The water sector and the energy sector are two distinct sectors, and hydropower, and the potential that it holds, is bringing us together,” Hendricks said in a statement prepared for the African Ministerial Conference on Hydropower and Sustainable Development.


The two-day conference is taking place in Johannesburg, attended by representatives of the African Ministerial Council of Water, the World Bank, United Nations, and the African Union.


Hendricks said the South African government felt it was important to host the conference so a plan of action could be prepared to harness the huge potential of hydropower that Africa has, and to contribute to providing affordable, clean energy to Africans.


“Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world, both with respect to the development of our energy resources and our water resources. And due to the variation in climate in Africa, both within one year and between years, we can not rely on the run of rivers alone for water supply or for hydropower supply,” said Hendricks.


She said storage dams were needed for this purpose, which linked the issues of hydropower to the debate on dams and development.


To reach the objectives of the conference, the ministers would need to investigate the potential of hydropower to contribute to the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, compare the attributes of hydropower to other sources of energy, and ascertain how far hydropower resources had already been developed, and what potential remained for further development.


“I hope this conference will open the door for greater co-operation between our countries, and that over the next two days you are successful in your deliberations,” Hendricks said.—Sapa


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