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Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa’s Infrastructure: The Power and Water Sectors

This book evaluates the impacts of climate change on hydropower and irrigation expansion plans in Africa’s main river basins (Congo, Niger, Nile, Orange, Senegal, Volta, and Zambezi), as well as the effects on the electricity sector across four power pools (Western, Eastern, Central, and Southern).


Cervigni, R., R. Liden, J.E. Neumann, and K.M. Strzepek (eds.) (2015). Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa's Infrastructure: The Power and Water Sectors. The World Bank, Washington, DC.

Understanding the causes and addressing the effects of climate change are central to our efforts to end poverty. If left unchecked, climate change could overwhelm existing development efforts. Taking the challenge seriously requires a broad focus on its impacts as well as the continued viability of clean, renewable energy sources, many of which – such as hydropower, wind, and solar – are potentially sensitive to climate change even as they are part of the solution.

Nowhere is this more important than in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is responsible for a small share of global greenhouse gas emissions, but whose people bear a disproportionate share of the impacts of climate change. Yet Africa has the ability to manage the effects of climate change and build resilience. One response that is essential to Africa’s continued economic development, has been to enhance infrastructure, particularly for the water and power sectors.

For example, Africa has a large untapped hydropower potential, and it has been estimated to exploit less than 10% of its technical potential, the lowest proportion of any of the world’s regions. Yet one of the essential values of infrastructure, its long lifespan, can make it all the more vulnerable to climate variability. How do we design and build the essential infrastructure needed for Africa’s development, while factoring in and addressing the challenge of climate resilience?

This book tackles that challenge head on, by sorting complex and uncertain climate science, quantifying the range of climate vulnerabilities of infrastructure performance, and proposing a  practical response to these vulnerabilities through careful infrastructure planning and design.

The comprehensive nature of the results – covering seven major river basins and all four of sub-Saharan Africa’s electric power pools – using a unified methodology and dataset, make this a uniquely useful study. The book also connects directly to institutions engaged in infrastructure investment and climate resilience actions, notably the African Union Commission and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) framework; the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa and its African Climate Policy Centre; and the array of river basin authorities and electric power pools.

SEI authors contributed to three chapters:
2. Methodology, by Kenneth M. Strzepek, Raffaello Cervigni, Rikard Liden, Robert Lempert, Mark Howells, David Purkey, Brent Boehlert, and Yohannes Gebretsadik;
4. Establishing a reference investment scenario, by Annette Huber-Lee, Stephanie Galaitsi, Casey Brown, Abdulkarim Seid, Denis Hughes, and Brian Joyce; and
5. The impacts of climate change on infrastructure performance, by Mark Howells, Brent Boehlert, Brian Joyce, Oliver Broad, Vignesh Sridharan, David Groves, Kenneth M. Strzepek, and Robert Lempert.

Learn more and download the book (external link to World Bank)

SEI authors

David Purkey

Centre Director

SEI Latin America

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Brian Joyce

Senior Scientist


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Annette Huber-Lee

Senior Scientist


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