5 June 2012 – The International Hydropower Association’s 2011/2012 activities report says that African countries are increasingly developing energy policies targeted at extending their power grids and promoting renewable energy projects. One policy development, announced in May 2011, was Kenya’s least cost power development plan (LCPDP) under the global scaling-up renewable energy program (SREP). The associated investment plan includes provision for the development of small hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 1,000 MW to foster development of remote communities and economic activities.

In Uganda, in accordance with its national development plan (2010-2014) a number of hydropower projects are under construction or in the planning stage, including Isimba (140 MW), Ayago (600 MW), Arianga (400 MW) and Karuma (600 MW). The Bujagali hydropower project, a 250 MW hydropower facility on the Victoria Nile River, begun in 2007, was completed in 2011 and began supplying electricity in February 2012 after many years of interrupted development.

Other significant African national hydropower developments and/or feasibility studies in 2011 took place in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Inga III), and Mozambique (Cahora Bassa). In terms of regional development, the governments of Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania announced their plans to build a 90 MW hydropower project at the Rusumo Falls on the Kagera River on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania. The project will supply power to all three countries.

In recent years Ethiopia has accelerated the development of its hydropower potential. Regional power integration and connection to its neighbours through the Eastern African Power Pool (EAPP) is expected to increase the market for Ethiopian electricity, lower electricity prices and enhance reliability of supply to neighbouring countries.

In March 2011, Ethiopian prime minister Zenawi announced construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, scheduled to be completed by 2017. The project is planned to have 6,000 MW of installed capacity. Elsewhere in the country, significant hydropower development is ongoing, including filling of the 1,870 MW Gilgel Gibe III reservoir, which began in 2011.