23 August 2014

Ethiopia: Experts Praise Hydropower As Cheapest, Cleanest Energy

Entebbe — Experts who carried out extensive research on alternative sources of energy for development activities praised hydroelectric power as the most preferable sector countries need to invest in.

During the week long "Nile Journalists Workshop" held in Entebbe, Uganda, energy experts noted that investments made on hydropower energy development is highly economical and produces the cleanest energy.

Given the necessary social impact that is conducted, the experts said hydropower energy is a preferable source of energy compared to nuclear, solar and wind alternative sources of energy.

Emmanuel Olet, program officer at Nile Basin Initiative, based in Entebbe, is among the experts who recommended the building of Hydropower Dams in member states of the Nile basin. In his study entitled "The Nile and Development: Dams, Power, Infrastructure and Industry," Emmanuel stressed on the extremely important part of environment friendly and clean energy sources. The researcher listed some Hydro Electric Dams in Ethiopia, Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and others. He also made mention of dams like The Bujagali of Uganda. The Bujagali Dam, which the participants of the event visited, is based in Jinja, around the source of the White Nile Dam. The dam produces 200 MW of energy benefitting both Uganda and Kenya.

The experts also talked about the Ethiopian Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is believed to become the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa, intended to produce 6,000MW after completion. The expert appreciated Ethiopia for the planning to trade clean energy and interconnect the east African region as a whole.

Alan Nicol, Program Director at Global Water Initiative is an expert on Nile Development and irrigation. Alan, who carried out extensive studies on agricultural development both in Egypt and Ethiopia, on his part, emphasized that member states,like Ethiopia should promote construction of dams both for energy and irrigation. He also recommended substantial transformation of development schemes from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation activities, which he said, is possible only by building such multipurpose dams.

These and other many experts praised that hydropower energy is the cleanest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly source of energy.

Despite the fact that dam construction for hydropower purposes were highly favored by the majority of experts, there were also sentiments from some researchers like Henry Bazira, regional manager at Water Governance Institute, who reiterated that hydropower dams may have social impacts. Henry, who demonstrated the failure of social impact studies on GERD, believes solar energy and wind energy may be preferable to hydropower energy. Mostly reflecting the interests of NGOs working on the environment, he noted the latter might endanger the social environment. He also brought up the concern of downstream states on reduction of the flow of water into the scene.

The workshop was sponsored by Department of State and organized by VOA and NBI. Twenty-three journalists considered to have been reporting on the Nile were selected for the workshop from each member state of the basin. The participants finally decided to form a Nile Media Forum to sustain the discussion held so far.


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