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Lusaka, Wednesday, May 17, 2017: The development of small hydro-power plants in the region is set for a major boost following the start of a joint initiative between the COMESA and the International Centre on Small Hydro-Power (ICSHP).

Two joint offices have been opened in China and at the COMESA Headquarters in Zambia to facilitate the mutual implementation of small hydro-power projects in the region.

The COMESA/ICSHP office in Zambia was opened Wednesday 17 May 2017. It will provide among others, for joint planning on small hydro-power projects, implement policy research, publish policies and information on renewable energy sector and promote cooperation for investment and financing of small hydro power projects.

A similar office was established in Hangzhou, China in April this year during which a Memorandum of Understanding between COMESA and ICSHP was signed. The MoU provided the framework for cooperation between the two parties in green small hydro power. It also aims at enhancing the role of the ICSHP, in particular, carrying out the project of Lighting up Rural Africa, with the support of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The Chief Planner at the Ministry of Water Resource of China, Mr. Zhang Zhitong, the Director General of the ICSHP Prof. Cheng Xialei and COMESA Secretary General, Sindiso Ngwenya jointly unveiled the Lusaka office.

Speaking at the event, Mr Zhitong said the collaboration between China and COMESA was aimed at promoting international standards in the construction and management of small hydro-power plants in Africa.

He said: “Africa has great potential for small hydro-power and renewable energy which, through this cooperation will benefit from China’s experience and skills.”

He said that training workshops on small hydropower will be conducted every year to build the capacity of COMESA countries on small hydro power development. The next workshop will take place in Madagascar in July this year.

Mr. Ngwenya said at least 50 small hydro-power projects have been identified in the region for development and will be showcased during ‘The 8th Hydropower for Today Forum’ to be held in Lusaka, Zambia later in the year. The Forum will be jointly organized by COMESA and the Ministries in charge of water resources of China and Zambia.

In addition to small hydro power development, Mr Ngwenya said the utilization of inland water bodies, which are plenty in the region, will be addressed under this partnership.

ICSHP was established in 1994, and is a non-profit institution operating under the auspices of (UNIDO). Its mission is to promote small hydro-power development worldwide. It is based in Hangzhou, China and serves as the headquarters of the International Network on Small Hydro-power (INSHP) with more than 470 members from 80 countries.

COMESA Secretary General is the current Honorary Chairperson of the Coordinating Committee of the Network.