About 60 percent of hydropower stations in Africa are over 20 years old, in what calls for their modernisation and embedding of new, more efficient technologies for optimal production.

This is according to the 2022 Hydropower Status Report by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) – which represents organisations and individuals committed to sustainable hydropower.

“IHA is supporting the African Development Bank’s Africa Hydropower Modernization Program, which aims to increase generation capacity at low cost, with short leads times and minimal environmental impact,” the report says.

Source: International Hydropower Association

The report makes mention of several mega projects recently undertaken or in the middle of implementation across the continent.

This includes the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which began electricity production in February 2022, commissioning two units with an installed capacity of 375 MW each. Once complete, it will be Africa’s largest hydropower plant at 5.3 GW (5,300MW).

At the same time, Zambia commissioned the first 150 MW unit of the 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydropower station in July 2021. In Nigeria, the first 175 MW unit at the 700 MW Zungeru Hydropower Station went operational in the first quarter of 2022.

Tanzania is equally constructing the 2,115MW Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station across Rufiji River in the eastern part of the country.

In 2021, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) invited bids for the implementation of the 44.7 MW Muzizi scheme, to be built on the Muzizi River.

IHA says that, like the rest of the world, Africa is moving in the right direction, but the pace needs to be stepped up if it is to achieve its energy security and climate action goals.