COMESA seeks to increase hydropower production in member states
Economic growth and development of many COMESA countries remain constrained due to inadequate energy infrastructure.
Currently, the total installed capacity for electric power in the 21 COMESA countries is estimated at 70,000 megawatts.
Speaking during the opening of the 8th Hydropower for Forum in Lusaka, Zambia COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said higher economic growth could have attained, if the region developed adequate economic infrastructure including energy infrastructure.
The Forum was organized by the International Centre for Small Hydro Power, based in China, COMESA and the Government of Zambia. Over 150 delegates from African countries and China participated in the forum. Its theme was: ‘Hydropower promotes industrial development in Africa.’
The Secretary General observed that COMESA region lagged behind in energy in contrast to China which has a total installed capacity of one million megawatts.
“Our energy statistics show that the average percentage of population with access to electricity in the whole COMESA region is around 45 per cent while in China it is 100 per cent,” she said.
Zambia’s Minister of Energy, Mathew Nkhuwa who was represented by Permanent Secretary Brigadier General Emeldah Chola opened the forum.
In his statement, the Minister bemoaned the underdeveloped energy infrastructure adding that the continent was well endowed in various forms of energy resources ranging from hydro, solar, biomass, wind and nuclear.
He said there is need for the continent to come up with energy infrastructure to cover the entire continent.
“Energy is and will always be one of the key ingredients for production,” the Minister stressed.
Africa remains with the lowest electricity access rates in the world with an estimated 600 million people or 50% of the population, majority of whom reside in the rural areas, not having access to electricity.
The per capital energy consumption of the African countries is the lowest in the world, with an estimated 80% of the African population relying on traditional biomass, which is the bottom rung of the so-called energy ladder.
Chief planner of the Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of china, Wang Annan, said the meeting is meant to share experiences, ideas and technologies in the energy sector.
The Chief Planner said energy is an important material basis for the development of human society and a powerful driving force for the advancement of modernization.
In recent years, global resource crises, environmental degradation and climate change have become increasingly prominent, and the relationship between energy supply and demand has undergone profound changes.
"Vigorously developing green energy has become a common consensus of the international community,” Mr Annan said.