Climate change, hydro-dependency, and the African dam boom

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We examine Africa’s increasing reliance on hydropower in light of climate change-induced variations in rainfall and the potential power outages that may result. We use a continent wide riverflow model and IPPC climate change scenarios and show that current plans for African dam building are fairly well matched with river-flow predictions so that fears that international donors and national governments are making a series of expensive and environmentally damaging investments may be overstated. However, predictions of an increase in extreme events and reduced rainfall for certain countries mean there are still viability concerns for certain planned hydropower investments.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-98
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Development
Early online date12 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Africa, Climate change, Energy, Hydropower