Right Priorities for Africa's Power Sector

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

An Evaluation of Dams Under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)

In 2012, African heads of state launched the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), an ambitious infrastructure blueprint intended to spur development on the continent by addressing persistent infrastructure gaps. In the face of low energy generation and access rates, PIDA proposes a number of power plants and transmission lines in all four regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. The cornerstone of these plans is a suite of 13 large dams (11 of them listed in the table below) identified in the PIDA Priority Action Plan to be undertaken by 2020.

If realised, these projects have the potential to address a critical need on the continent. However, in light of the mixed track record of large dams and considering the colossal price tag of PIDA dams – conservatively estimated at over $30 billion – it's important to review these projects' potential benefits. 

In an attempt to review the PIDA projects in a detailed and comprehensive manner, the International Rivers Africa regional office has published the report "Right Priorities for Africa's Power Sector." The study assesses the proposed PIDA dams (11 out of the 13 dams) and their prospects for sucess, and aims to inform discussions about how best to allocate scarce development funds. The study analysed each PIDA project against a set of ten indicators designed to capture, among other things, a project's economic viability, its development impact, and its environmental, social and financial risks. The results of the analysis are summarised in the table below. 

Each dam is given a score ranging between "highly concerning," "moderate impact" and "less concerning."

Summary Table of Scores of 11 PIDA Dams

Summary of scores of 11 PIDA dam projects

Interactive Map of PIDA Dams

More information: 

Download the full report in English

Conservation Strategy Hydrocalculator - a tool that calculates the NPV of hydropower dams based on cost and benefits over a 50-year period. Click here to get a detailed analysis of the PIDA dams results based on International Rivers inputed figures