Ethiopia – Grand Renaissance Dam

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As the government pushes forward with huge dam project, concerns resurface about the downstream impact.

The government of Ethiopia is currently constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which once completed will be the largest hydropower facility in Africa.

The huge project will contribute around 6000 MegaWatts (MW) of power, nearly triple the country’s current electricity generation capacity, and will also present an important source of economic revenue for the government.

The project is seen by Ethiopia as a strong symbol of unity, with the Ethiopian Herald claiming that it fills Ethiopians with hope, not just a development project but a symbol demonstrating the wish to overcome poverty.

Statistics from 2016 show that around 30% of Ethiopia’s population have access to electricity with more than 90% of households still relying on traditional fuels for cooking, leading to respiratory infections, which are the main cause of death in the country.

The Ethiopian government rationalises the project in these terms and the economic benefits are clear. Critical commentators, however, have pointed out that in areas in which 70% of the population rely on subsistence agriculture, standard of living needs to improve before Ethiopians will consume additional electricity. Unless the electricity is subsidised by the government.

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Grand Renaissance Dam – All Africa

The government also sees crucial revenue opportunities, particularly through electricity exports. Power purchase agreements have already been signed with Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania.

But there are concerns about how this dam will affect downstream states, in particular Sudan and Egypt. Initially, Sudan was opposed to the construction of the dam, but has since agreed to purchase electricity upon its completion, and the respective countries have agreed to collaborate on a ‘free economic zone’.

In May 2017, the Middle East Monitor concluded that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan had just finished their 14th round of unsuccessful discussions about how to manage the Nile River.

The Ethiopian government expects it will take y five or six years to fill the GERD reservoir. In contrast, Diaa Al-Din Al-Qousi from Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said 12 to 18 years is needed to guarantee water security for Egypt.

The Geological Society of America said that the Nile’s fresh water flow to Egypt may be cut by as much as 25%, with the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam in Egypt cut by a third. Egypt is already one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, reported the Institute of Security Studies.

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Nile Basin – Global Water Forum

Ethiopia insists that the project has been conducted with adequate transparency but since it was announced in 2011 Cairo has periodically demanded that construction cease, claiming it is protected by a 1959 treaty, that divides the river between Sudan and Egypt, but does not include Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, however, claims that it never signed the treaty and highlights that Egypt has not signed the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) of the Nile Basin States.

Analysts at the US-based consulting group Stratfor have said that Egypt’s reaction will be determined by its political leadership, but that a large-scale reduction in water from the Nile would be intolerable to any Egyptian government’, reported the Institute of Security Studies.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

WATER: Ethiopia
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 5, Pp. 21732B–21733C

WATER PROJECTS: Ethiopia – Kenya
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21624B–21625C

ETHIOPIA: Regional Powerhouse
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21411A–21412C

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Liberia – Solar Energy Agenda

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The government commits to new solar farms as uncertainties around oil prompts a re-examination of energy policy.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the financing and cooperation in construction of a new 10 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in the capital Monrovia, was signed by Gigawatt Global Cooperatief U.A.

The signing of the MoU took place during the meeting of the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations (UN) on September 23rd. Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister Marjon Kamara said that energy is one of the country’s top priorities.

Project Coordinator, Remy Reinstein indicated that besides the 10 megawatts (MW) to be built in Monrovia, an additional 30MW would be included in other parts of the country. According to reports the government will assist by securing the land for the new facility as part of the National Electrification Plan.

Gigawatt Global Cooperatief U.A. is a US, Dutch and Israeli renewable energy company, and delivered the first utility-scale solar plant in Rwanda, supplying 6% of the country’s electiricty needs.  The company has also recently signed a 135MW project in Nigeria, expected to be the largest solar plant in Africa, reported the Daily Observer

Around the world many campaigners and activists are urging a shift away from fossil fuels; in Liberia the main sources of electricity are private and the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) rely on diesel fuel generators.

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However some have said that the global drop in oil prices means that a move towards renewables is less appealing for investors, although others stress the unpredictability of the oil market and climate change mean that oil-based sources of energy are unsustainable.

One Liberian environmentalist, Silas Siakor, said, “given the level of bad governance, given the level of the breakdown of the fabric of our Liberian society, if we decided to engage in the oil sector, the possibility of causing a lot of damages is way too high that it raises the question of the sensibleness to do that.”

The Liberian oil sector is currently reeling from the announcement that the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) was bankrupt, leading to international firms such as Chevron and Anadarko taking oil blocks off the coast.

There are also other obstacles to the high cost of solar technology; the World Food Program (WFP) said that 64% of Liberians live below the ‘poverty line’ and as many as 1.3m in extreme poverty; the technology itself both on an industrial and a household level is often expensive,  reported Front Page Africa.

However earlier this year the World Bank, approved a new financing agreement of US$27 million to increase access to affordable and reliable electricity and to foster the use of renewable energy sources in Liberia. The Liberia Renewable Energy Access Project (LIRENAP) seeks to establish a mini hydropower plant to benefit about 50,000 people, as well as small businesses, associations and public institutions in Lofa County.

Also, in August Liberia and Ghana agreed to cooperate in the power sector; the Ghanaian leader claimed that Liberia could benefit from Ghanaian technical expertise in expanding electricity supply throughout the country, reported Liberia News Agency.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Liberia – The Tide Turns Against The Biggest Slum
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 7, Pp.21346C.

POWER
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 6, Pp. 21334C–21336C.

OIL/GAS: Liberia
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 2, Pp.21188B–21190C.

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Angola – Hydropower on the Agenda

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As completion dates approach for a number of large projects the government states it is willing to trial new technology.

Reconstruction works on the Matala dam, located around 180km from Lubango city in southern Huila province, which have cost around US$249.6 million, are nearing completion and are intended to dramatically increase the safety and water storage capacity at the facility.

The works have added eight new sluice gates to an already existing 29 which allows for a greater control and regulation of the flow of water. Project Director of Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, Celso Pontes said that the a second phases would involve new generator sets and the modernisation of the power station itself, reported Macauhub.

The Matala Dam was built on the Cunene River in 1954 and alongside generating power the facility also stores water for irrigation systems in the southern agricultural areas.

Meanwhile at the Cambambe hydroelectric dam a second turbine will be operational within two months as part of works estimated at $2bn, which began in 2009 and include raising the height of the dam, new power stations and new convertors to support connections between the Cambambe I and II, Capanda and the Lauca dams, reported Macauhub.

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Capanda Dam, Kwanza River – CC

The Cambambe dam is located on the Kwanza river alongside two others; the Lauca dam under construction in works estimated at $4.3bn by Brazilian firm Odebrecht – the largest civil engineering project in the country – and the Capanda dam located 47km upstream from Lauca.

According to Minister of Energy and Water João Baptista Borges, Angola has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Privinvest industrial group for the commencement of hydrokinetic production over the next decade.

The agreement was signed as part of the country’s 2025 Energy Security Plan, and the government hopes to produce 9000MW of power by 2025, particularly from hydropower. Much of Angola’s economy and power generation is currently reliant on oil and gas.

Privinvest, along with its subsidiaries Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN) and Hydroquest, are designing and producing special turbines for use along rivers and in the sea. Angola’s state power company Prodel will set up a partnership with Privinvest to manufacture the hydrokinetc facilities, reported Macauhub.

Borges said, “Angola is one of the world’s greatest untapped potential sources of hydro power. Its abundant waterways will allow, with the introduction of accessible technologies, the development of low cost energy for the rural and remote areas of this vast country. ”

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin today:

POWER: Angola
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.4, Pp.21263B–21264C

ECA / SADC – Energy Crisis Meeting
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.21226B–21226C

POWER: Angola
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.2, Pp.21190A–21192C

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Nigeria – Privatisation Concerns

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As the government pushes forward with wide-ranging privatisation measures, rights groups remain apprehensive. 

Wide ranging privatisation measures are taking place in Nigeria, particularly within the water and power sectors, in a bid to ease pressure on already scarce resources and funds. However, according to one commentator, from the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) , the privatisation of the power sector was leading to the casualisation of the workforce, job insecurity, unemployment, and an increased cost of living.

“To date, companies in the power sector have adopted all manners of anti-labour practices, including denial of salaries and sacking without fair hearing,” the source said, reported the Daily Trust.

Earlier, on March 22nd, the Daily Trust also reported that three years after the privatisation of the sector was begun, a number of conflicts over employee settlements have yet to be resolved. Meetings were held in 2013 between the government and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE). While around 90% of workers stated they did received payments, many, including most from the Enugu Distribution Company, said they had yet to see anything.

In Lagos, rights groups, including Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), have expressed concerns over the drive towards public private partnerships (PPPs) for water concessions in the state. The group had launched a campaign in 2014, entitled ‘Our Water, Our Right‘.

“As we have said time and again, the failure of the Lagos State government to open up on the controversial water PPP gives room for us to suspect that something is in the offing and the people are deliberately being kept in the dark,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Director at ERA/FoEN.

“Worse is the fact that the Lagos State government is toying with a failed model of PPP that the World Bank private arm – International Finance Corporation (IFC)  advised it to embark upon even with documented failures in Manila and Nagpur, in the Philippines and India respectively,” said Oluwafemi cited by the Premium Times.

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Source – Nigeria Electricity

A United States (US) lawmaker, Gwen Moore – a representative for Wisconsin -, and also a member of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, penned a letter to the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, which stated that the Bank and its finance arm the IFC had inadequately considered the conflicts of interest it had created upon taking stakes in water corporations.

“I am increasingly uneasy with water resource privatisation in developing countries and do not believe that the current ring-fencing policies separating the investment and advising functions of the IFC are adequate‎.”

“I would respectfully urge the World Bank and IFC to cease promoting and funding privatisation of water resources, including so-called PPPs in the water sector, until there has been a robust outside evaluation of the IFC’s conflicts policy and practices”; Moore said that the trends of water privatisation indicated an “improper mingling” of the World Bank and IFC advisory and investment functions.

In March many women marched in Lagos against the proposed plans to privatise the Lagos public water works, reported the Premium Times.

In the airline sector, the former Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Managing Director Richard Aisuebeogun has urged the federal government to privatise the 22 federal airports under the auspices of the agency. He claimed that privatisation would enhance income generation and boost efficiency.

Aisuebeogun explained that the airports should be encouraged to look to aeronautical revenues to make them “more business minded, rather just being operations…we need to encourage private investments to cone into the airports and develop it in terms of non-aeronautical activities, so that the unviable airports will become Strategic Business Units (SBUs).”

In recent years there has been great demand for the privatisation of air facilities, due to scarce resources and demand in other sectors, particularly education, health, road and rail infrastructure, reported This Day.

According to campaigns and advocacy group Global Justice Now, there are serious concerns not only with the increasing informalisation, casualisation and increasing precariousness of the workforce engendered under privatisation, but also the huge amounts of money that are being directed at the move, which some have said is doomed to failure. According to the report the United Kingdom (UK) has contributed £50m towards the privatisation of Nigeria’s energy sector.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

NIGERIA: Rising Hopes, Falling Revenues
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.4, Pp.20811A–20812B

POWER: General
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.2, Pp.20727A–20729C

Nigeria’s Forgotten Crisis
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20634A–20634B

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