Five facts about Angola's hydroelectric projects
SRK Consulting provides independent technical advice and services to the natural resource industry. The group have a strong African presence. For instance, it is involved in hydroelectric schemes along Angola’s Kwanza River. SRK has been contracted by financial institutions to conduct the environmental and social due diligence for three of the dams, in order to ensure compliance with Good International Industry Practice (GIIP).
Here are five things we’ve learnt from SRK’s recent experience of working on the Kwanza River:
Substantial investment required
According to SRK, plans for Angola’s hydro projects are ambitious and far-reaching for the country’s development. Angola require investment of approximately $10 billion for the first tranche of projects.
“Finance for these projects has to be raised and the lenders are Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs),” said Sharon Jones, Associate Partner and Principal Environmental Scientist at SRK. “To protect themselves against environmental and social risks, the lenders are committed to ensuring that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) and project implementation are compliant with GIIP – typically a proxy for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards and the Equator Principles.”
Seven potential hydro schemes
The Kwanza River drops some 1,000 metres over about 200 kilometres of its middle course as it nears the coastline and discharges into the sea south of the capital Luanda. It has been estimated that this head of water could be harnessed to generate 7,000 to 8,000 megawatts (MW) of energy from up to seven hydropower schemes along this reach of the river.
“The three proposed dams on which SRK is conducting Environmental and Social Due Diligence (ESDD) reviews are in an advanced stage of planning or execution, and could generate 5,000 MW of electricity by 2021,” said Jones.
Minimal social disruption
Jones noted that the social impact of this kind of project previously involved resettlement of people from their land or their villages, but will not in this case.
“Fortunately the area is not highly populated so very little resettlement will be required,” she said. “Nonetheless, the process needs to be transparent, systematic and equitable so that those who are moved or displaced from their land are not disadvantaged. Resettlement Action Plans (RAP) have been developed which SRK has reviewed, with the focus now shifting to monitoring implementation of the RAPs.”
The dams will alter flow regimes in the river, which in turn affect the levels of sedimentation; the sediment is usually deposited onto surrounding land in the floodplain during the annual flooding of the river, and this will now be less likely to occur. Other concerns are that dams are physical barriers that tend to restrict the migration of fish species, and flooding of rapids will destroy those particular habitats which might be particular to certain species.
Terms of employment for workers are also vital elements to consider, said Dalgliesh.
“These projects employ substantial numbers of employees, and standards must be applied regarding a range of issues including: health and safety; the rights of workers to organise; the accommodation they are entitled to; and the terms of their mobilisation and demobilisation,” he said. “These processes must, for example, be compliant with Angolan labour law and, in some cases, the standards of the International Labour Organisation.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”