The 6th World Hydropower Congress (WHC) kicked-off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today with Acting Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdok, calling on the continent to come up with strong and coherent policies to promote faster and more inclusive growth through the optimal use of hydropower and other sources of renewable energy.
Mr. Hamdok said with more than 600 million people in Africa living without access to electricity and households continuing to rely on traditional biomass for cooking, it was pertinent for Africa to tap into its vast renewable energy sources.
“With clear vision coupled with strong and coherent policy action to promote faster and more inclusive growth, the continent has the potential to take the lead in innovation, technologies and business models that utilise hydropower optimally and efficiently,” he said.
However, said Mr. Hamdok, it is equally important for the continent to guard against negative impacts of hydropower development and to pay close attention to climate resilience and social inclusion.
“This is mostly linked to growing concerns regarding hydropower sustainability, including the over-reliance on hydropower which could possibly compromise energy security in many countries, especially in the context of drought,” he said.
“I am glad to note that the agenda of this congress includes items of environmental and social impact in the context of hydropower development,” added Mr. Hamdok.
He also said it is important to develop an integrated approach to the management of water for irrigation and energy production, adding the ECA and the AUC are working closely with key stakeholders on a number of initiatives to promote low carbon energy development as well as innovative financing regimes for clean energy infrastructure projects to support the implementation of both the global Sustainable Development Goals Agenda and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063.
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, officially opened the congress telling delegates development was unthinkable in the absence of adequate and affordable energy.
He shared with delegates what Ethiopia is doing to advance the use of hydropower and renewable energy sources, adding Africa will not achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without universal access to electricity.