This is a guest post by Jameson McBride, an intern for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. He is currently studying Political Science and Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
Over the past few months, an energy crisis has been deepening in Zambia: the nation has been generating only 58 percent of its usual electrical capacity. The cause of this energy crisis, however, is not economic or political—it is drought. Like many sub-Saharan states, Zambia is heavily dependent on hydroelectricity, and recent drought has crippled the nation’s power supply. Zambia’s hydropower problems may only be a sign of things to come. Long-range models predict that climate change is likely to cause more droughts throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. While hydropower is widely billed as sustainable due to its low emissions and high efficiency, the drought-induced Zambian energy crisis suggests that it may not be a reliable solution for African energy in a future marred by climate change. Read more »