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World Bank study: Africa needs more hydropower

A new study from World Bank shows that almost half of the $93 billion needed to improve Africa’s infrastructure must be spent on the construction of new power supplies.

The study, Africa’s Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation, assessed the infrastructure in 24 countries across the continent and found that Africa’s largest infrastructure needs are in the power sector and that the development of new hydropower may be the best way to increase the continent’s capacity.

“The most cost-effective way to expand Africa’s power generation is through regional trade,” the study found. “Mobilizing the benefits of regional trade depends on developing major untapped hydropower projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Guinea.”

Such a plan would require 22,000 MW of interconnectors to deliver power freely from country to country, the study states. The ability to trade power supplies “would increase hydropower’s share of the continent’s generation portfolio from 36 percent to 48 percent,” the study found.

With a population of 800 million, Africa’s 48 countries generate about the same amount of power as Spain, which has a population of 45 million, the study found. In addition, Africa’s power sector has grown on average barely 1 percent annually, or less than 1,000 MW a year, since 1995.

“Installed capacity will need to grow by more than 10 percent annually, or more than 7,000 megawatts a year, just to meet Africa’s suppressed demand,” the study states.


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