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Renewable Energy for Africa: Liberian President briefed on the potential of hydropower for Africa’s development

  • Potential for hydropower in Africa: 435 gigawatts, equivalent to approx. 200 modern nuclear power plants
  • Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as guest at Voith ahead of G7 summit meeting
  • Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler, former German Federal President and former Managing Director of the IMF attended the meeting
  • Liberia focusing on renewable energies such as hydropower in ist energy strategy
  • Voith Hydro power plant Mount Coffee first plant to be back in operation after the civil war

Heidenheim. Today, Voith welcomed a high-ranking delegation from the Republic of Liberia, headed by its President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was briefed ahead of the G7 summit on hydropower activities of the technology group. Among the guests were the Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo, Liberian Ambassador to Germany Ethel Davis along with Ian Yhap, Chairman of the Liberian electricity provider LEC (Liberian Electricity Corporation). Also participating in the event was the former German Federal President and former Managing Director of the IMF, Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler, Dr. Norbert Kloppenburg, Member of the Board, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Reconstruction Credit Institute), Roderich Kiesewetter, Representative of Foreign Affairs for the CDU/CSUCaucus and District President of Stuttgart, Johannes Schmalzl. The visitors were received by Dr. Hubert Lienhard, President and CEO of Voith GmbH, and Dr. Roland Münch, Chairman of Voith Hydro Management Board.

"For Liberia as well as many other African countries, the issue of energy supply is an essential item in the national growth strategy," said Johnson Sirleaf in Heidenheim. "The reliable and stable supply of energy to the population and industrial sector is a fundamental prerequisite for improving living standards. Renewable energy is crucial for us but it must be stable and, above all, financially viable. And this is what we will talk about at the G7 summit."

Hydropower is a significant key factor: with an estimated potential of approx. 435 gigawatts, hydropower is one of the most attractive energy sources in Africa. In addition, it is the only renewable energy source that provides industrial scale electricity at competitive prices. However, the considerable potential of hydropower has only been exploited to a very small degree in Africa – a mere 26 gigawatts is generated by hydropower plants.

Africa offers a lot of opportunities for German companies. The German industry delivers nearly everything that is needed to build up a reliable, safe and modern infrastructure: Power plants, modern production sites, public transport systems. Especially infrastructure companies like Voith can make a significant contribution to the sustainable development and the future growth of the African continent.

During her visit, the President inspected the components being made in Heidenheim for the Liberian Mount Coffee power plant which was destroyed in the civil war, and was briefed on the current state of the project work being carried out for the reconstruction. As part of the project in Liberia, Voith Hydro has modernized the Francis turbines and supplied new generators, the control system technology along with the electrical and mechanical power plant equipment. As a result, performance has risen by one-third when compared to previous operations. The rebuilt power plant will be put back into service in late 2016. "I am delighted that Voith and LEC have found a secure and pragmatic way for the further development of the project, also during the recently overcome Ebola epidemic. With this, Voith is supporting Liberia with an important step in the fight for the development of the Liberian economy and combating national poverty: with the repair of the Mount Coffee power plant, one of the key facilities in the Liberian energy supply network is being reconstructed", emphasized President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“A sound and sustainable development of Africa will not to a small extend depend on how successful the countries manage the build-up of infrastructure“, said former German Federal President Horst Köhler. “Infrastructure and here first of all the supply with energy is a key driver for sustainable growth and development. In this, hydropower can play a decisive role. It is especially in the field of renewable energies that German business, together with African partners, can cooperate for mutual benefit.”

For Voith, its commitment on the African continent is a long-standing tradition. The Group has been involved in all major power plant projects in Africa for decades; for example, providing equipment for the hydroelectric plant Cambambe II in Angola and the modernization of the Inga I hydropower plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We know that only 10 percent of urban population and less than 2 percent of the rural population in Liberia have access to electricity. Voith is pleased to be able to make a major contribution to improving the general economic conditions," said Dr. Hubert Lienhard. "The visit of President Johnson Sirleaf shows just how important hydropower will be as a renewable energy source in future for the supply of energy in Liberia."

The importance of hydropower
Hydropower is the largest, oldest and most reliable form of renewable energy generation. Worldwide, it provides an indispensable contribution to ensuring a stable power supply and, in turn, economic and social development – in industrialized countries as well as in fast-growing regions. In addition, hydropower contributes significantly to a climate-friendly energy production. Since the start of hydropower utilization, Voith has been a leading provider of this technology and is continuously developing this even further.

Voith sets standards in the markets energy, oil & gas, paper, raw materials and transport & automotive. Founded in 1867, Voith employs more than 39,000 people, generates EUR 5.3 billion in sales, operates in about 50 countries around the world and is today one of the largest family-owned companies in Europe.

Visit of the high-ranking Liberian delegation in the worldwide Voith research and development center for hydro turbines “Brunnenmühle”: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (6. f.l.) together with former German Federal President Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler (5. f.l.), Dr. Hubert Lienhard (7. f.l.), and Dr. Roland Münch (8. f.l.).


Markus Woehl

Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA Corporate Press Office


t +49 (0) 7321 37 2219