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Potential of Small-Scale Hydropower for Electricity Generation in Sub-Saharan Africa

DOI: 10.5402/2012/132606

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The importance of renewable energy such as small hydropower for sustainable power generation in relation to its capacity to contribute towards alleviating acute shortage of rural electricity supply in the sub-Saharan African region has been discussed. A relatively comprehensive small hydropower technology review has been presented. Rural electricity supply scenario in the region has been presented and, in general, the region has very low electricity access levels coupled with various challenges. Small hydropower technology has been discussed as one of the promising decentralised power generation system for rural electricity supply in the region. Despite challenges in data acquisition, this paper has shown that the SSA has significant hydropower resources, but the level of installation is very low. Challenges hampering SHP technology development in the region have been identified and discussed, such as those concerning technology, climate change, finance, and policy. This is basically a paper where the authors consulted a wide range of literature including journals, conference proceedings, and reports as well as expert knowledge in the area. It is hoped that this paper contributes to the information base on SHP technology which is quite lacking in the region. 1. Introduction Sustainable electricity supply not only supports social and economic development processes but also environmental and global climate change management and hence its importance in attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Currently, there is an increasing electricity demand in industry, household, and services sectors in developing countries to support social-economic development activities. If this electricity is generated unsustainably and the trend is not controlled, it could lead to exacerbation of environmental and climate change management problems which the world is currently experiencing. The energy supply sector (mainly for generation of electricity), according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the largest contributor to the global human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (responsible for global warming—main cause of climate change); in 2004, energy supply sector contributed to around 26% of global GHG emissions, followed by forestry (17%), agriculture (13%), and transport (13%) [1]. Developing countries, especially those from sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries (sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. The countries in the sub-Saharan African region are Angola,


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