Despite recording economic growth, most African countries continued to experience short supply of electricity, which hampers development in general. But the President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, said hydro-energy is capable of sustaining the current economic growth in the continent.
Kaberuka made the comments in Uganda where he attended the inauguration of a US $735.5 million public-private partnership 250-MW project in Bujagali, some 87 km north-east of the capital Kampala. The project, which includes the construction of 100 km transmission lines, is one of Africa’s largest hydro-power projects. The bank contributes US $139 million for the dam and transmission lines.
As energy is critical to boost Africa’s economic growth, the bank leader said, “this is the time for Africa to harness its huge hydro-energy potential”, especially as hydro-energy is cheaper and cleaner and that the continent is blessed with seven major rivers [Nile, Niger, Congo, Senegal, Orange, Limpopo and Zambezi].
Africa holds about 10% of the world’s hydro-energy potential. However, with low energy per capita consumption, the continent has so far exploited a small part of its capability.
He believed that a boost in the hydro-power sector will boost investment will take care of broader economic and social concerns in Africa. Kaberuka expressed the bank’s strong commitment to assist its member countries’ efforts to further develop their energy potentials.
President Kaberuka also delivered a memorial lecture on the topic “The African Economy: 50 years after Independence". The lecture was done in memory of Joseph Mubiru, the first Governor of the Central Bank of Uganda.
Kaberuka said after decades of reforms and adjustments, many African countries are now experiencing economic growth and poverty reduction, which was largely driven by commodity prices instead of changes the structural adjustments.
For this positive trend to be sustained, he advised African countries to learn from the past, consolidate growth drivers, build strong institutions, develop infrastructure and trade, and ensure policy predictability.
During his week-long visit, the AfDB chief held discussions with Ugandan government officials and those in the private sector, including President Yoweri Museveni.
As one of the three largest recipients of the bank’s resources, Uganda prioritises energy, transport, water supply and sanitation and access to credit. The Eastern African country officials said energy is vital to their country’s growth and development.
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