The road ahead for fixing Africa’s infrastructure deficit

The road ahead for fixing Africa’s infrastructure deficit

Africa is characterized by an infrastructural deficit, a situation that remains critical. In fact, across the continent, 319 million people are living without access to improved reliable drinking water sources695 million people are living without basic sanitation access, only 34 percent have road access, and 620 million people don’t have access to electricity (sub-Saharan Africa). These insufficient infrastructure networks across the continent have limited cross-border flows of trade, capital, information, and people, drastically affecting Africa’s growth and broader development performance and regional integration. The Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), a continental initiative aimed at tackling the infrastructure deficits in Africa by 2040, should address these major gaps, but the effort is a long way from meeting its potential.

Rusomo Falls Hydroelectric Project: A Best Practice for Socio-Environmental Risk Mitigation

The Rusumo Hydro Power Plant is a transboundary project traversing over Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi located on the Kagera River on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania, and nearly 25 kilometres downstream of Burundi. Rusomo Falls is also a PIDA Priority Project to which the African Development Bank (AfDB) provided a $4 million grant to the Nile Basin Initiative to technical studies for the transmission lines.

National and Regional Impact of Rusomo Falls.

The project is envisioned to strengthen regional power interconnection and to provide job prospects for more than 500 skilled and non-skilled labour forces from the recipient countries Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. It is forecasted to improve livelihoods of about 7000 households in the beneficiary districts and an additional 188 households directly affected by the projects through Livelihood Restoration Program (LRP) implemented by the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP).

Transbounday Water Management as success for Socio-Environmental Risk Mitigation

Naturally, the development of large scale infrastructure can be to the disadvantage of nature and communities. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that project states in cooperation with regional actors such as River Basin Organisation (RBOs) communicate early in the project preparation stage on socio-environmental risk mitigation. This is exactly what happened during the development of Rusomo Falls via Transboundary Water Management (TWM).
NELSAP as the RBO developed above mentioned livelihood restoration program, which is part of a broader Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) prepared in accordance with the World Bank social safeguard requirements and the AfDB Involuntary Resettlement Policy. Additionally, the RAP, to relocate people in a publicly responsible method and conferring to good international practice, was bolstered by a well-coordinated notification and consultation process of the three project states. Through the notification process, and the ensuing environmental and social assessments, it was decided to alter the original design of a 90MW plant and projected displacement of 90,000 people to an 80 MW hydropower scheme merely displacing about 500 people. This process demonstrated the significance and benefits of engaging a broader range of stakeholders at the national and regional level so as to promote RBOs and to achieve national level buy-in.

The Rusumo Hydro Power Plant has thus far been on track with satisfactory progress. Where there is impending transboundary impact, national standards should still apply to the degree that they correspond with universally established international rules and standards. The respective recipient countries have reported on the positive impacts the development of the project has had thus far, the most noteworthy being the absence of load shedding since December 2015 and the assertion that current power cuts are associated with network issues. It can thus serve as best practice example in mitigating socio-environmental risks in infrastructure development in Africa.

Kaleta Dam: Energy Access through Regional Infrastructure in West Africa

The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) demonstrated its “Energy Vision” through the implementation of the Kaleta Hydropower Dam situated on the Konkoure River, approximately 120km from Guinea’s capital Conakry. The Kaleta Dam harnesses renewable (hydropower) energy resources in order for households, businesses and industries to gain energy access, not only in Guinea but for West Africa. The growth and improvement of resourceful, dependable, cost effective, and ecologically friendly energy infrastructure is a stepping stone towards poverty eradication and sustainable development in the region.

Socio-Economic-Impacts-and Regional Power Distribution

As part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Energy Efficiency Policy, a long-term energy strategy was announced by the Guinean government to alleviate the energy crisis that has been hindering the development of the country. As a result, the implementation of the Kaleta hydropower plant improved energy access for the population of Guinea by adding 240 MW to the national electricity grid. In addition, it has widened the potential of businesses to expand, create more jobs as well as to increase the confidence for further investments in West Africa. In essence, the Kaleta Dam has a positive impact on the country’s socio-economic development as Guinea’s hydroelectric generating capacity increased from 2012 levels of 128 MW to 368 MW, almost tripling its mounted hydro capability. In addition, power generated from the dam plays a noteworthy part in providing unswerving power for Conakry’s 1.7 million citizens.

The development of renewable energy by means of the Kaleta Hydropower Dam was brought to fruition in 2015 after three years of construction. The Dam is resourceful in meeting the power demands of Guinea and an estimation of 30% of Kaleta’s output is intended to go to neighbouring Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. At the core, the electricity generated at Kaleta feeds into the operation of the West African Power Pool’s vision of incorporating national power systems into an integrated regional electricity market. The main goal is to provide a consistent and dependable energy delivery at economical cost for the ECOWAS region as part of its Regional Energy Efficiency Policy.

Further Outlook

In the upcoming years, the PIDA energy infrastructure framework plans to include transmission lines to connect the continent’s power pools and permit a large increase in inter-regional energy trade. PIDA as the continental infrastructure framework is supported by the German Government through technical advisory services of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). With PIDA projects becoming operational, it continues to promote regional economic integration via the advancement of cross-border infrastructure on the African continent.

October 2017

PIDA Job Creation Toolkit at Africa Talks Jobs, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

After a successful first phase of developing a methodology for the estimation of labour market effects of PIDA projects, the results and the way forward of the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit were presented at the Africa Talks Jobs event. The Toolkit not only estimates the type and quantity of jobs that can potentially be created by PIDA projects, but it also provides actionably strategies and policy recommendations how to maximize local jobs and improve skills development. PIDA as a key driver for job creation and the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit as a future labour market information tool were incorporated to the final declaration which eventually will be forwarded to the AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire.

2017 PIDA Week to Convene in Namibia

The 2017 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week will be held from 10 to 14 December in Swakopmund, Namibia under the theme “Enhancing Trade and Economic Transformation through Regional Infrastructure Development”. (more…)