World Water Day 2014: Interview with Alex Rugamba, AfDB Director of Energy, Environment and Climate Change
On the occasion of World Water Day, which is celebrated on March 22 and this year focuses on water and energy, Alex Rugamba, Director of the African Development Bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, reflects on the importance of energy in Africa’s transformation.
In your view, what role does hydropower play in the African Development Bank’s efforts to promote green growth on the continent?
Africa’s development requires energy, and harnessing the continent’s abundant hydropower potential will be part of solution. The Bank long-term strategic objectives are promoting inclusive growth and the transition to green growth. Hydropower can help address energy needs of African economies and livelihoods, while promoting low carbon development pathways. However, well planned hydropower also means considering and addressing local environmental concerns, taking into account implications of climate change and land-use changes for water supply and ensuring that local populations truly benefit. Hence, it is important that we think more about multi-purpose solutions, that provide infrastructure for energy, but also support, for example, flood and drought risk management or provide irrigation to agricultural activities and so on.
Which main hydropower projects has the AfDB been financing recently, and what have been their transformational benefits?
Since 2007, AfDB has been financing 12 hydropower projects in 11 African countries. They will all contribute to providing energy to approximately 100 million inhabitants on the continent, and more than 4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions will be avoided every year. The Bujagali plant in Uganda; the Regional Rusumo Falls Project, which provides energy to Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi; the Itezhi Tezhi Project in Zambia; and the Inga on the Congo River, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are among the projects the Bank has financed.