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Oliver Meth

Spanning over a decade, the first unit of the China-built Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Station in Nigeria was put into operation in late March, with the other three units expected to go online by the end of this year.

Power Construction Corporation of China and China National Electric Engineering, once completed the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Station with a total installed capacity of 700 MW, is expected to produce 2.64 billion kWh of electricity annually in the most populous country in Africa.

The power station is the epitome of China’s efforts to help facilitate Africa’s quest for green development. According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, access to electricity is an urgent challenge due to a growing population projected to double to nearly 2.4 billion by 2050.

To help the continent achieve its green transition, China has prioritised clean energy in its cooperation with African countries.

The Chinese-built Adama wind farms, installed with 102 turbines with a total generating capacity of 153 MW, helped Ethiopia tap into its rich renewable energy potential. China’s Dongfang Electric Corporation is presently undertaking the Aysha Wind Farm Project, the first wind power project in the Somali region, with a generating capacity of 120 MW.

The project is expected to provide power to Ethiopia’s mega-development projects, such as the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway and Dire Dawa Industrial Park, and ensure a stable and sufficient power supply for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti economic corridor. In the hydropower sector, cooperation with China enabled Ethiopia to realise the 254 MW Genale-Dawa III hydroelectric power station, which was inaugurated in the first quarter of 2020 and has been in safe operation since.

The Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Station in the Niger State, Nigeria./nigeriaelectricityhub/

In South Africa, Chinese engagement enabled the installation of 163 wind turbines in two phases of the De Aar wind power project, converting wind energy into electricity.

“Since its operation in 2017, the project has been running in good condition and hasn’t experienced any interruption, ” said Sheng Bin, manager of Safety Production and Technology Department of Longyuan South Africa Renewables.

In Uganda’s mid-western district of Kiryandongo, workers from Sinohydro Corporation are busy with the final touches to the Karuma Hydro Power Plant along the Nile River. The Karuma Hydro Power Plant, with 85 percent financing from the Export-Import Bank of China, will be the largest power-generating installation in the East African country once completed, with a generating capacity of 600 MW. Mary Goretti Kitutu, former minister of energy and mineral development, said generating and using clean energy is crucial for Uganda’s sustainable development.

In Kenya, official figures showed that the installed capacity of solar power is more than 100 MW, while the China-financed Garissa Solar accounts for 50 MW. Located in northern Kenya’s Garissa county, it is the largest grid-connected solar power plant in East and Central Africa.

The Garissa Solar plant puts Kenya on the path to achieving green energy sufficiency and adds to Kenya’s rich profile as the centre of green energy generation in Africa.

Renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydro could be a viable alternative to meet the continent’s burgeoning electricity needs, with most of Africa’s energy currently coming from biomass and fossil fuels.

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Oliver Meth

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