2017 World Hydropower Congress opens in Addis Ababa

The 2017 World Hydropower Congress opened at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa on Tuesday 9 May.

Hailemariam Desalegn

H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, officially opened the congress. Addressing delegates, he said: “Development is unthinkable in the absence of adequate and affordable energy”.

Emphasising the need to pull together, he said “I would like to reiterate the need for collective efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change”, and described hydropower as being “crucial to providing reliable and sustainable energy development for African economies”.

H.E. Quartey Thomas Kwesi, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, delivered a speech discussing hydropower’s role in addressing Africa’s energy challenges. He said: “Access to modern and sustainable energy services is crucial to achieving sustainable, transformative and inclusive development.

“The development and expansion of renewable energy provides one of the most effective strategies to simultaneously promote development, sustainable energy access and energy security as well as climate change mitigation at the global, continental and regional levels.”

Calling for increased collaboration, he said that “for Africa, there is a need to engage with specialised institutions such as the International Hydropower Association in order to benefit from their networks of experts.”

Liu Zhenya, chairman of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), presented the concept of ‘global energy interconnection’ (GEI) as “the inevitable way out for clean and low-carbon energy transition”.

He said: “It is imperative for us to accelerate the green and low-carbon transition. The key to realising that is to bring forward a new energy supply system prioritised by clean energy development and power supply with large-scale optimal allocation of the GEI platform.”

Closing he speech, he said: “Let’s work hand in hand for African energy interconnections with more communication and common consent, and make our due contribution to sustainable development.”

Ken Adams, president of the International Hydropower Association welcomed delegates to the congress. He said: “Hydropower cannot be done in isolation.

“My message today is that achieving Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without breaking barriers and widening the scope of collaboration between all of our institutions. We must embrace the fact that one single technology will not resolve the challenges of our generation.

“We need more hydropower on the grid, as it plays a role as a flexible, sustainable generation source. We also need it to play the often unrecognised role of energy storage.”

Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and special representative of the UN secretary general for Sustainable Energy for all, spoke of the urgency of the current energy challenge. She said: "Better Hydro is an important way to meet the goal of sustainable energy agreed by all countries and the ambition of the Paris climate agreement. It offers affordable, cleaner, reliable energy as well as storage which can crowd in more solar and wind development.

"The challenge of securing sustainable energy for all by 2030 means we have to move forward with speed and scale. We hope that the World Hydropower Congress will spur rapid progress."

Abdalla Hamdok, acting executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said that "hydropower is well known to be one of the most important power sources in the world, producing more than three quarters of the world's renewable energy output each year. A number of countries are almost exclusively using hydro as their baseload electricity. At the same time, hydropower has become the renewable energy of choice."

Reflecting on global concerns around hydropower's sustainability, he said: "I am glad to note that the agenda of this congress includes items of environmental and social impact in the context of hydropower development."

Noting the potential of Africa's vast natural resources, and the commitment of many African governments, partners and institutions to address the continent's energy infrastructure gap, he concluded by stating that Africa's "true value lies with the millions of Africans across the continent determined to drive change", and that "coupled with strong and coherence policy action", the continent has the power to deliver on a more sustainable energy future.

You can find out more about the congress at

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