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Interview with Paul Runge, Managing Director, Africa Project Access.  Paul will chair two hydropower sessions during the upcoming Clean Power Africa in Cape Town in May.

Paul Runge

Can you give us some insight into some of the clean power/renewable energy projects that you are involved with in Africa?

  • Numerous hydropower projects especially mini hydros for example the Kibompo hydro project being undertaken by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation in Zambia’s North-West Province.
  • Major hydro programmes in Ethiopia.  
  • Various wind projects such as Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya.
  • Geothermal in Kenya.
  • Biofuels especially linked to sugar projects.

What do you believe are the main challenges in getting hydropower projects off the ground on the continent?

  • Regional collaboration is difficult to achieve and national interests take precedence over regional interests. Hence the importance of the Nile Basin Initiative.  
  • Insufficient capacity at the national power utilities.
  • Strong opposition from environmentalists.

What is your vision for this industry?
Hydro power will take precedence. Much is said of Inga but Ethiopia has the potential to become a major regional supplier.
Can you give us more information on why Ethiopia will become a strong regional supplier?

  • Waste-to-energy power plant, Rei-Koshe on the outskirts of Addis Ababa
  • Renaissance hydro dam, Blue Nile River, western Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia/Kenya/regional: Ethiopia-Kenya interconnector power transmission Line

The Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy, Womdimu Tekle, is a headline speaker at Clean Power Africa, what would you like to hear from him?
I would like to hear about upcoming projects that they are busy with.

What surprises you about this industry?
Lack of knowledge and recognition of advantages from carbon credits.
You are the chairman of two sessions on hydropower during Clean Power Africa -what will be your main message that you would want delegates to leave with?

  • Transfer of intelligence of major project opportunities.
  • Outlining of the need for consortia of companies with complementary products and skills.

What are you most looking forward to at Clean Power Africa?
Meeting senior representatives of African power utilities as well as fund managers.
Anything you would like to add?
Despite the emphasis and utterances regarding clean energy, there are numerous major coal initiatives and nuclear power is still being strongly considered.