Saturday, 1 March 2014


Volume 2,  Issue No. 5, October/November 2013

  • Chair’s Foreword
  • Micro Hydro-power in Africa
  • Earth Science Events
  • Suggested Reading and links

Micro hydro-power scheme supplying electricity to a Kenyan village (Practical Action)

Foreword by the Chair of Society of African Earth Scientists, Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu
Welcome to the eleventh issue of the bi-monthly newsletter of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES).

Micro-hydropower in Africa
According to many assessments, Africa has great untapped hydropower potential. It is useful to note that the Libyan government under Ghaddafi, made an assessment of African hydropower resources.  The report estimates that only 20% of Africa’s hydro-power potential has been tapped.  The assessment is a document generated by the Ministerial Conference on Water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa: The Challenges of Climate Change, and was entitled “Hydropower Resource Assessment of Africa”[4]. Others (e.g., Klunne [1, 3]) estimate that less than 7% of this hydropower potential has actually been tapped. Throughout Africa, from east to west, north to central and  southern Africa, there is a wealth of permanent rivers with untapped hydropower potential. Many of these sites offer the opportunity for the establishment of so called “run-of-the-river” schemes which do not require the construction of dams or reservoirs to facilitate the exploitation of hydropower potential.
   The Libyan report outlines some of the obstacles to implementation of small hydropower schemes in Africa, which include:
 1. Lack of capacity to manufacture rudimentary parts for turbines
2. Lack of capacity to design and develope small schemes for remote regions
3. Lack of access to the appropriate technology to facilitate mini-, micro- and  pico-hydropower projects

One can point to existing UN assisted small and micro hydropower projects in Africa [1], that illustrate the potential that small hydropower promises for the continent’s electrification. For instance, the United Nations Environment Programme are implementing a Global Environment Facility funded project that looks at the possibility of applying small hydro at  tea estates in East Africa to generate electricity. In West Africa, the United Nations Development Programme is implementing a Global Environment Facility assisted project to promote decentralised off-grid  rural electrification in 10 countries.
   One can also point to examples of community based hydropower schemes in Zimbabwe [2,3] and in Kenya[1,3]. The Tungu-Kabiri community hydro project in Kenya facilitated the installation of a micro-hydropower scheme for the local community that is both owned and managed by the local community. In Zimbabwe, the Chipendeke and Pungwe River micro hydropower plants are also owned and managed by their respective local communities. The hydropower plant at Chipendeke has had many indirect benefits as a result of the power plant. Electrification has served to boost local business and services, including chicken rearing and improved electricity supply to clinics and local schools.
   In conclusion, micro-hydropower in Africa represents an opportunity to add significantly to Africa’s renewable energy capability.  It should be no surprise to see the growth of micro hydropower, since micro-hydropower requires low level investment and the benefits are seen in the short term[4]. The crucial point has been made that micro-hydropower development needs to be embedded in national capacity building and industrial development programmes[1]. It is a point we hope African governments seriously address, as the potential rewards in terms of development in the rural areas  of the continent are great.

Affiliation and Association with other organisations
SAES is affiliated to the African Association of Women in the Geosciences, Solar Sister, and is an active supporter of the African led counter land grab initiatives, Stop Africa Land Grab and Stop Land Grabbing.

Earth Science Events
November 24-26,  2013
7th International Conference on African Geology
Venue: Assiut, Egypt
A conference to present new advances, and research results in the fields of theoretical, experimental and applied geology of Africa.

March 19, 20, 21,   2014
Association of African Women in the Geosciences –
Day for Earth Sciences in Africa and Middle East  "Geoeducation, geoheritage and Peace building in Africa and Middle East"
Venue: International
The African Association of Women in Geosciences and the African Geoparks Network are proclaiming the 20th March as a “Day for Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East”
to increase the awareness about the role that earth scientists could play to help to build a peaceful, healthier and wealthier continent. This day was first celebrated in 2013. In 2014, the day will be celebarated under the title "Geoeducation, Geoheritage and Peace Building in Africa and Middle East".

August 14-16, 2014
3rd Young Earth Scientists Congress, 25th Colloquium on African Geology
“Earth Sciences for Improving Livelihood in Africa”
Venue: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere  Convention Centre, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
“CAG in Brief: The Colloquium of African Geology (CAG) is a major biennial meeting organized under the auspices of the Geological Society of Africa (GSAf). Since the first Colloquium in 1965, the Colloquia have been hosted by several European and African countries. The African countries that had a chance to organize this event were Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Mozambique, Tunisia, South Africa and Ethiopia. Based on the decision of the Geological Society of Africa (GSAf) General Assembly held on 14th January 2013 at the Millennium Hall, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (during the 24th Colloquium), the organization of the next Colloquium of African Geology (CAG25) as well as the 15th Conference of the Geological Society of Africa was assigned to Brazil. However, because of administrative problems in organizing the 25th CAG along with the Brazilian Geological Society of Brazil Conference in September 2014, the GSAf Council members decided to move the CAG25 to another country. Based on the discussion between Prof. Aberra Mogessie (President of the Geological Society of Africa) and Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals of the United Republic of Tanzania, in Graz Austria, in August 2013 it was decided to organize the CAG25 back to back with the 3rd YES Congress in Tanzania. This decision was approved by the GSAf Council members. The CAG25 is an independent meeting which will be organized by the Tanzania Geological Society (TGS) under the auspices of the GSAf.”

References and Selected Reading
1. Klunne, W.J., Small Hydro-power Development in Africa, ESI Africa, Issue 2, 2007.
2. Think Africa, Zimbabwe: Bringing Hydro power to the People, May 2012.
3. Klunne, W.J., Micro Hydropower in Rural Africa, Challenge, Spring 2011.
4. Water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa, Hydro Power Assessment of Africa, Dec. 2008.
5. Gupta, S.K., Modern Hydrology and Sustainable Water Development, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, 2011.
6. A link on “Groundwater and Rural Water Supply in Africa”:
7. Link to Journal of African Earth Sciences: 

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