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The Herald – Zimbabwe
Hydro and fossil fuel-generated electricity have long well served Zimbabwe and many other countries in the past.
It is cheap, or at least cost-efficient, and has been sustainable for a long time.
But with fossil fuels being a finite resource, and water prone to the vagaries of climate change, countries such as Zimbabwe that have been largely dependent on these energy sources need to quickly reconsider their energy generation matrix.
Besides climate change that has seen inconsistent rainfall patterns in the source of Zambezi River water, up the equatorial rain forests that has been affected by unregulated logging that have decimated forests, in the process damaging the natural ecosystem, Zimbabwe has to think outside the box.
This year, just as three seasons ago, Zimbabwe is faced with a drought situation that is threatening to significantly compromise the country’s hydroelectricity generation capacity.
The country is already experiencing reduced power generation at Kariba Power Station amid concerns over fast receding lake water levels due to drought in the Kariba Dam’s catchment areas.
The drought situation is adversely affecting Zimbabwe’s power output, as well as that of its northern neighbour, Zambia.
Zimbabwe and Zambia generate power on the northern and southern banks of the Lake Kariba wall and share equally water from the world’s largest man-made inland lake that is, however, receding fast due to the drought factor.
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has since rationed water consumption by Zimbabwe and Zambia’s power utilities, ZESCO and ZESA, which will see them generating at prescribed thresholds, 358 megawatts for Zimbabwe and 392MW for Zambia.
But too much water can also cause problems for hydro-electricity generation systems.
As the case may be Mozambique, which operates the largest hydropower scheme in the region, is experiencing serious challenges dealing with dam overflow at Cahora Bassa Hydro Electric Dam following two recent powerful tropical cyclones. This has also compromised the country’s capacity to export energy to troubled surrounding countries.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing power generation problems and has to import more than 35 percent of its electricity requirements from Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
So local alternatives are certainly required and they are required now.
Local solutions will also save the country copious amounts of foreign currency that is being swallowed up by electricity imports.
Moving to renewable sources of energy such as wind energy, hydroelectric energy, and solar energy can also help the country conserve fossil fuels (coal to be specific) and preserve the environment.
Solar energy has been touted as an efficient and more feasible option. It is a more reasonable type of energy due to its abundance.
But the problem with solar, and most other alternatives currently available, is that they tend to be more expensive.
The last time Zimbabwe faced a depleting water situation as it is currently experiencing was around 2016 and the Government scurried around and delivered the Dema Emergency Diesel Peaking Power Plant.
The plant is no doubt costly, which can only be expected due to the high cost of diesel and the volumes and spares required to keep it running.
But it’s an alternative, and in such cases as when Kariba is seriously compromised, coal supplies for Hwange Power Station are not assured, and surrounding countries are facing their own energy challenges to export some of their output, a facility such as the Dema plant could turn out to be a handy option to have.
There is no doubt that it is a costly venture.
Management has said they need to at least charge over 0,10 to 0,11 US cents per kilowatt hour, which is already above the electricity tariff in the country.
To the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), the plant will need to charge them starting at 0,13 US cents.
Just to be clear, the 0,13 US cents per kWh takes into account that the Dema plant was granted a number of exemptions by the Government.
Without the exemptions the cost of power from the Dema plant would be in the order of 0,22 to 0,23 US cents per kWh.
Sometimes, just sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Hence, Zimbabwe, facing the crisis that is at hand, needs to ensure there are more power supply alternatives such as the Dema plant.
The New Times (Kigali)
By Collins Mwai
Growing unpredictability of weather and climate change effects continue to reduce agriculture productivity, increasing the need for irrigation in the country.
However, despite the obvious benefits and potential for irrigation to turn the sector around, efforts to scale up uptake continues to face challenges in the country.
For instance, currently, only about 60,000ha are under irrigation out of the national irrigation potential of 600,000 ha.
The country targets to have at least 102,000ha under irrigation by 2024 which would, among other things, improve food security and productivity.
Reliance on rain-fed agriculture is not sustainable due increased weather unpredictability.
With the increased demand of food, it's no longer enough to solely rely on the rainy season to engage in agriculture.
Officials in the agriculture sector say that the uptake of irrigation is mainly held back by mindset.
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Jean Claude Musabyimana, said that considering that farmers can hardly access loans in the local financial sector, it's a challenge to scale up the coverage of irrigation.
Currently, only about 6 per cent of the total loans in the country go to the agriculture sector with financial sector players citing that the lack of data in the agriculture sector as the main cause.
The mindset and perception of farmers on the practice, Musabyimana said, is also a hindrance.
"Majority of Rwandan farmers do not believe in alternatives beyond rain-fed agriculture. It is important to demonstrate what irrigation can do to turn around the productivity of the sector," he said.
For instance, despite the current season being a rainy one, there are very few if any community or individual interventions to harvest water and use it for agriculture purposes at a later date.
The challenge of uptake of irrigation is also partly due to factors such as the fact that most farmers in the country consider their activities subsistent and do not formally invest in operations.
This leads most farmers to hold back from investing in irrigation.
Tania Lozanksy, the Global Head of Advisory at Service at the International Finance Cooperation, said that if farmers viewed their operations as a business, there would be better and higher chances of finding avenues to fund the investment in irrigation.
"Rwanda uses about 2 per cent of its water resources, so if we are looking at climate change and the changing weather patterns, we have to use more water for irrigation," Lozanksy said.
Going forward, she said that there is need to have interventions across the board to ensure impact.
"The financial institutions need to understand how to finance the irrigation solutions and using certain models. The whole ecosystem has to come together but you also need to have a market, which is often a missing," she added.
In addition, irrigation solutions and technology is also relatively expensive in Rwanda compared to other parts of the world.
Regassa Esermu Namara, the Team leader for farmer-led irrigation at the World Bank, said that like in most African countries, irrigation technology and interventions in Rwanda are often thrice or four times as expensive due to the levels of underdevelopment of the intervention in Rwanda.
The hilly terrain also contributes to increased costs of irrigation in the country.
To make irrigation a sustainable measure, Daniel Gies, the Chief of Party at Feed the Future, a programme funded by USAID, said that action steps ought to include capacity development among farmers on irrigation solutions coupled with seeking financial models that will make it more affordable.
The experts say that to make a case for irrigation, the value chain has to include profitable sales of produce which would justify an investment in irrigation on the part of farmers.
Currently, the Government's subsidies for irrigation schemes stand at about 50 per cent.
The New Times (Kigali)
By Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti
Over 500 participants who are members of Pan African Movement (PAM) will on Saturday convene in Kigali to deliberate on issues that need urgent attention to enable the continent develop faster and catch up with the rest of the world.
The International Conference for Pan African Movement (PAM) Rwanda Chapter will be held at Intare Conference Arena in Rusororo to discuss issues of governance, sustainable development, education and peace and security, according to Protais Musoni, the Chairperson of PAM Rwanda.
The conference is part of PAM Week activities organised to mark Africa Day that is observed on May 25 and this year, it will be held under the theme: "Celebration of Africa Day: The Future of Africa- Challenges and Prospects."
Participants will hear from experienced researchers, scholars and experts in different fields on how to handle the issues the continent is faced with and how its opportunities can be harnessed to develop it.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday, Musoni said that the meeting will devise ways to handle the issues that Africa is likely to be challenged with in the future, especially in areas like governance, sustainable development, peace and security and education.
On governance, he said the meeting will be looking at issues hampering good governance in Africa and what Africa needs to do differently so that it can be able to strategically position itself at the centre of global affairs.
"There are trade restrictions, we have unions that are breaking up, we have emerging powers, we need to see what we can do in our governance to be able to meet these challenges but also exploit the opportunities that are created," Musoni said.
"The second is sustainable development, again we are looking at emerging and changing trends, trends in manufacturing, trends in trade, trends in technology, what is it Africa should do differently and progressively to make sure that development growth that we now have is sustained," he noted.
On peace and security, Musoni said there are a number of challenges on the continent in this area and when turbulence emerges in the world, tendency is that they may cause more instability within the continent.
"We need to investigate more to find out what are the emerging threats, what are the emerging opportunities and strategies so that Africa can be free and secure," he said.
He noted that the education system in Africa was displaced by the colonial system to serve the interest of colonizers and needs decolonising.
"In Pan African movement we still see colonialism in the education system, so how do we decolonize education to create a capable and focused youth who can solve the African problems," he said.
Musoni said that despite the poverty on the continent and dependency on the rest of the world, Africa has the potential and ability to develop itself.
"I think and believe that if we put our act together, Africa is capable of creating another narrative and the ingredients are there. Population-wise, we are a fifth of the world population, age-wise, we have almost 40 per cent of the global youth and we have our natural resources especially the strategic minerals for mobile phones," he said.
"If you combined these with good mindset and the right education, Africa can easily exploit the opportunities that are there and we move forward," he added.