Conference: Hydro Power Africa
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Presenter: Eamonn Barrett
Abstract: Presented by Eamonn Barrett at Hydro Power Africa

Recent years have seen a revival in interest in the hydropower potential of the African continent, as a consequence of a number of drivers that include the energy demands of Africa’s growing economies and increasing concerns over the climate change implications of thermal power generation.

This revived interest is a marked change from the preceding twenty years or more, when widespread concerns over the social and environmental impacts of major hydropower projects contributed to a decreased “attractiveness” for funding institutions.

The hydropower projects which are now being planned, designed and implemented throughout Africa must respond to a significant evolution of the standards that form the benchmark for international best practice in environmental and social issues. This paper reviews standards and requirements of those institutions which represent the benchmark for best practice, and which are likely to finance the majority of hydropower projects, focussing on social/resettlement requirements. These standards are being set by the major multilateral and private sector financing institutions: the World Bank; International Finance Corporation; and the commercial banks signed up to the Equator Principles; and the standards contribute to effective risk management by financing institutions, and provide a framework for the sustainability of hydropower projects through construction and operation.

The review will draw upon ERM social/resettlement experience throughour Africa, and use as a case study a recent Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Resettlement Planning exercise for a major hydropower scheme in West Africa prepared by an Environmental Resources Management (ERM) team led by the author.