Conference Discusses Role of Energy and Water in Africa’s Development

UNECA AU18 April 2013: Experts and policymakers convened at the African Union (AU) Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to consider the role of water and energy in economic transformation and poverty reduction. Participants at the “Water Storage and Hydropower Development for Africa conference,” which was held from 16-18 April, discussed how hydropower development and water storage investments could support Africa's development.

Elham Ibrahim, AU, stressed lack of access to modern energy sources hinders Africa's competitiveness and efforts to combat poverty. Noting that Africa has been installing an average of 1,000 MW of new power generation capacity per year, she said “at present rates of electrification most African countries will not be able to reach universal access to electricity even by 2050.” On energy, participants discussed: improving the affordability and reliability of renewable energy, including biomass, hydropower, solar and wind; and tackling the electricity “gender burden,” noting that lack of electricity disproportionately affects women.

Mamounata Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso's Minister of Water Resources, said his government created a ministry dedicated to access to water and sanitation, to support achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Tegenu Alemayehu, Ethiopia's Minister for Water Resources and Energy, stressed attention to issues of water security. On water, participants discussed: integrated river basin development in the Congo, Niger, Nile and Zambezi river basins; water availability; water storage for multiple uses; and infrastructure improvements and investments, including through the AU Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

Ethiopia's Ministry of Water and Energy, the AU, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), Aqua Media International and International Journal of Hydropower & Dams organized the three-day event. [AU Press Release] [World Water Council Press Release] [World Water Council Press Release 2]