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 (West, Eastern, Central, and Southern power pools). The book demonstrates that failure to integrate climate change in the planning and design of power and water infrastructure could entail, in the driest scenarios, signifi cant losses of hydropower revenues and increases in consumer expenditure for energy. In the wettest climate scenarios, business-as-usual infrastructure development could lead to substantial forgone revenues if the larger volume of precipitation is not used to expand the production of hydropower.
As long as a climate risk analysis is fully integrated in the project cycle, starting from the upstream planning stages at the national, river basin, regional, and power-pool levels, and in pre-feasibility studies of individual investments, climate risks can be significantly mitigated in a cost effective manner. Proper integration of climate change in infrastructure investment needs to properly address the challenge posed by the large and persistent uncertainty surrounding climate projections. However, while ignoring climate change entails serious risks of planning and designing infrastructure that is not suited for the climate of the future, there is also a risk of adapting to climate change in the wrong way, which could be as significant as the risk of incurring damages when not adapting. A wrong adaptation decision takes place, for example, when it is based on the expectation that the future will be drier, when in fact, it turns out to be wetter. The solution to this dilemma is to identify an adaptation strategy that balances the risk of inaction with the risk of wrong action.