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African Experts Discuss Challenges for Sustainable Hydropower Development

2 April 2011: The Conference on Hydropower for Sustainable Development in Africa took place 31 March - 1 April 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Conference focused on the following themes: Africa renewable energy potential, including hydropower development in Ethiopia; regional cooperation for water and energy, including transboundary issues; sustainability and good practices; and finance and investments.

Organized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy in collaboration with the African Union (AU) Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the meeting gathered policy makers, regional planners, civil society representatives, industry leaders and the financial sector to discuss policy challenges and solutions for the development of sustainable hydropower in Africa.

Participants recognized that hydropower as a source of renewable energy has multiple benefits at local and regional levels that contribute to poverty eradication, such as energy security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, water conservation, navigation, irrigation, flood risk management, and drought mitigation, while noting that these benefits can only be achieved when hydropower is developed sustainably.

Participants recommended encouraging regional development through, among other measures, further emphasis on coordinated and harmonized regional development, while taking into account environmental conservation. On enabling finance and investment, the conference suggested: defining the differentiated roles of the public and private sectors in hydropower investment; innovation in financing, including guarantees that take into account the realities of regional hydropower development; and enhancing the capacities of the utilities to develop bankable projects.

On advancing the role of hydropower, participants called, among other measures, for: catalyzing improvements in water security management; nurturing the development of multi-purpose water infrastructure and use; strengthening and expanding regional power transmission systems; promoting and utilizing knowledge on climate change mitigation and adaptation; and prioritizing the delivery of benefits to affected communities.

On delivering hydropower, participants encouraged that the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol of the International Hydropower Association be used to guide and evaluate project development, and suggested establishing in Ethiopia a continental center of excellence on sustainable hydropower development. [African Hydropower Conference Website][Conference Recommendations][Keynote Statements]