An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview
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Q. Power, Development and Research

Africa's potential hydro-electric power resources have been estimated at 40 per cent. of the world total. This great potential springs from the rapid descent of Africa's biggest rivers, fed by tropical rains, from inland plateaux to the sea. About half of this latent power lies in the Congo, with its vast and constant flow of water. Less than 1 per cent. of the potential has yet been harnessed.

In South Africa, the lack of water power is offset by abundant and accessible supplies of coal (O). In North Africa, a source of power newly harnessed for Algerian cities is the natural gas of Hassi R'mel (3).

Some of the hydro-power projects for which 'blueprints' exist are unlikely to be carried out for a long time because there is no early prospect of a big local demand for power from industry or mining; one such is the huge Inga project near the Congo mouth.

Research, as well as power, is needed for economic development, especially in Africa, where much more technical and scientific knowledge is required. Many of the problems that still require study are shared by a number of states and territories, e.g. human and animal diseases like those carried by tsetse flies, and plant diseases and pests, such as the swollen-shoot disease that has afflicted cocoa trees in Ghana and elsewhere, the locust plagues of the north and east, and the water hyacinth that has been choking the Congo river and killing fish (N). Technical and scientific research has been coordinated by the inter-governmental Commission for Technical Cooperation in Africa South of the Sahara, and the associated Scientific Council for Africa (generally known by their French initials as the CCTA and CSA). The CCTA has set up a Foundation for Mutual Assistance in Africa South of the Sahara, and an Inter- African Research Fund. The work of these bodies has been increasingly supplemented by that of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and of the specialized agencies that cooperate in UN technical assistance programmes (F ).

Financial aid for development has been provided through various organizations, including the World Bank and other UN agencies, the British Colonial Development Corporation and the French funds known as FAC and FIDES. America has provided aid for a number of countries, Russia for the UAR, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Guinea,

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