African Experts Receive Training on Small Scale Hydro Power

Vienna, 27 May 2013 – In conjunction with the Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized a training session on small scale hydropower (SSHP) development for 20 experts from the West African region and other parts of Sub Saharan Africa. The training was held in different parts of Austria from 22 to 27 May 2013.

The training was undertaken under the umbrella of the ECOWAS Small Scale Hydro Power Program which was developed by ECREEE in partnership with UNIDO. The Program was adopted by the ECOWAS Ministers of Energy during the High Level Energy Conference which took place from 29 to 31 October 2012 in Accra, Ghana. The regional program aims to contribute towards increased access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services, energy security and mitigation of climate change by establishing an enabling environment for small-scale hydro power investments in West Africa. It supports capacity development, knowledge management and exchange, business and investment promotion activities. North-South and South-South knowledge and technology transfer are important components of the program.The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), comprising 15 countries with a population of more than 300 million inhabitants, offers vast untapped investment and business opportunities in the area of hydropower. However, the ECOWAS countries are yet to take full advantage of their technically and economically feasible small hydro potential. It is estimated that the small scale hydropower (SSHP) potential (up to 30 MW as defined by ECOWAS) ranges between 1,900 MW to 5,700 MW. Only a small fraction of this potential has been exploited so far. The lack of technical capacity is a major barrier to the dissemination and successful transfer of feasible technologies within the West African states.

On the other hand, Austria is one of the global leaders in developing hydro power projects of all sizes. Around 60% of installed electric capacity in Austria is generated from hydropower resources. In 2010, hydropower plants with an installed total output of 12.9 GW were operated. Approximately 150 large hydropower and 4,000 small hydropower facilities (up to 10 MW according to the Austrian definition) generate around 40 TWh of electricity annually.

The training included theoretical lessons, hydro site visits, as well as meetings with financiers, consultants, utilities, independent power producers, plant operators and manufacturers in Vienna, Lower and Upper Austria. It aimed at strengthening the capacities on various project development and implementation issues ranging from policy, incentive mechanisms, regulatory frameworks, economics, financing, management, maintenance and  environmental sustainability. The experts from Africa, representing ministries, energy agencies and scientific organizations received first hand information regarding Austria’s long-standing experience in dealing with these issues. The training ended with a Business-to-Business Meeting with Austrian companies, held on 27 May at the Ministry for European and International Affairs.

The training was financially and technically supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and the Austrian Energy Agency (AEA). Further information on the ECOWAS Small Scale Hydropower Program is available at: