Stakeholders are reassessing the important role of the continent’s vast hydropower resources. This is not only in terms of its ability to generate clean base-load power, but also its ability to strengthen power trading on the continent.
We believe Power trading is key to helping overcome the very high costs associated with electrifying the continent. Inter-connected grids could mitigate the need to spend as much as USD40 billion on boosting generation capacities in Africa. As such, these projects receive important backing from donor finance institutions.
About 17GW of hydropower are currently under construction in Africa, and Ethiopia is taking the lead in harnessing this resource to the benefit of members of the Eastern African Power Pool (EAPP).
Many more of these projects are still in the very early stages of their lifecycles, struggling to reach a bankable state. In some instances, they are challenging engineering feats that epitomise mega projects, with large dams generating clean power that is transmitted over an intricate transmission network that spans many countries.
There are also smaller, practical initiatives. Projects such as the West African Gas Pipeline, serve as examples of exactly what can be achieved through larger regional thinking around energy infrastructure. This exceptional work under the banner of West African Power Pool complements that already achieved by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), in terms of stimulating energy trading. The SAPP leads in cross-border trade, with 7.5% of power crossing international borders, compared to the less than 1% between member countries of the CAPP (Central African Power Pool) and EAPP.
Power stations, such as the Cahorra Bassa dam in Mozambique, play an invaluable role in bolstering the SAPP’s grid. It is here where WSP is again playing a prominent role in helping the continent harness this “blue gold”.