The African Development Bank (AfDB) is drawing up around $1 billion to upgrade the 760-megawatt (MW) Kainji plant and around 11 others across different countries across Africa.
Senior officials from the bank told Reuters on Monday that the plan is to boost the continent’s power generation capacity. Other countries that stand to benefit include South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the officials, work on these plants is expected to start around June 2024.
The upgrade aims to “accelerate the energy transition” from fossil fuels, remarked João Cunha, the head of the renewable energy division at AfDB.
While only a small portion of its potential is currently utilized, hydropower remains a fundamental element of Africa’s renewable energy and water management. This is particularly crucial as climate change exacerbates droughts and floods, and a significant population lacks access to electricity, underscoring the importance of hydropower in the region.
The AfDB’s plan also aims to enhance the output of Nigeria’s 600 MW Shiroro hydropower station near Abuja, incorporating an additional 100 MW through floating solar photovoltaics.
Africa’s hydropower plants have fallen into disrepair in recent years with many operating below their installed capacity. This is attributed to a lack of spare parts and poor maintenance over the years.
The Kainji power plant for example was built around 1968 with a capacity to generate to 760MW but currently operates at 520MW capacity.
In August, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) conducted a study commissioned by the AfDB. The study identified 21 out of 87 plants across Africa, with a combined capacity of 4,600 MW, requiring immediate rehabilitation amounting to $2 billion.
Additionally, another 31 plants, totalling 10,000 MW, will require maintenance within the next decade.
Nigeria is in urgent need of generating enough power to meet its energy needs to drive its faltering economy. The country currently generates a paltry 5000MW of electricity for its over 200 million population which estimates put their energy needs at 33,000MW.