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Dear readers, Hydro power’s contribution to development is constantly being scrutinised, but recent research may provide the industry with some positive food for thought.

In August 1997 IWP&DC took a close look at the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP), explaining that the exchange of electricity between the countries of the Southern African Development Community was likely to exploit under-utilised hydroelectric resources in the region. This month we revisit SAPP under the guidance of Dr FT Sparrow and Dr Brian H Bowden from Purdue University in the US. For the past four years the university’s State Utility Forecasting Group has been working with 12 member countries of SAPP. Detailed analysis and modelling has shown that over 70% of generation capacity expansion requirements throughout the region could be fulfilled by hydro power. The over riding message is that the Southern Africa region has enormous hydro power potential and, despite the initial high fixed costs associated with dam construction, hydroelectric capacity expansion still looks economically attractive in the long term.