Open source nexus modelling tools for Planning sustainable Energy Transition in Africa (ONePlAneT) Project


Project Title OpeN source nexus modelling tools for Planning sustainable Energy Transition in Africa (ONePlAneT)
Program Technology Transfer & Research
Thematic Area Cross-Cutting
Project ID (If Applicable) :
Goal To develop a common Nexus modelling framework to simulate and evaluate pathways to define a more sustainable future in Africa through the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure. In this way, it will be possible to stimulate a green energy transition in the continent as well as a decarbonization of existing energy plants. The ONEPlanET model will be tailored to the needs of different stakeholders and end-users (public and private actors, policy and decision-makers, experts and citizens).
Start Month & Year October 2022
Closing Month & Year October 2025
Duration (Years) 3 years
Budget Euros 200,000.00
Funding Partner European Union
Other Partners (If Applicable) • RINA Consulting SpA
• Fundación CARTIF
• Universidad de Valladolid
• Three o’clock
• Stitching IHE Delft Institute for Water Education
• Strathmore University
• Stiftelsen the Stockholm Environment Institute
• University of KwaZulu-Natal
• African Technology Innovation H
Coordinator Abdoulaye Ballo


Achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) requires Africa’s success. Population in this continent is among the youngest and fastest growing in the world. During the last two decades, the number of people living in cities has increased by 90% and this trend is set to accelerate till 2040. These profound demographic changes make Africa a key driver of global energy demand growth and will imply a rapid growth in materials and minerals demand to build infrastructure, expansion of industrial and agricultural production, and increased mobility of people and goods. However, to date, in many African regions, the access to affordable and sustainable energy or to clean cooking remains a challenge. Furthermore, increasing harsh living condition due to climate change (e.g. higher temperature and humidity, more frequent extreme events etc.) will cause that over 1 billion people in sub-Saharan Africa will be living in areas that needs space cooling.

To address the needs of its growing urban population and economy, Africa requires to double its energy supply by 2040 while ensuring access to electricity for 600 million people. Energy generation landscape in Africa is characterized by a rich, highly diverse range of resources, from hydrocarbons to Renewable Energy Sources (RES), and in 2019 the total installed capacity (not only RES) was 232 GW. However, despite the vast resource potential, only 22% of this capacity is based on RES, mostly hydropower (35.7 GW) and followed by solar (7.2 GW) or wind (5.7 GW).2 Mini-grids, micro-grids and solar home systems are anchoring efforts to bring modern and strengthened energy services and new sources of productive employment to remote populations, facilitated by digital technologies and payment tools. Just and Fair Energy transition in Africa towards universal access and decarbonisation should go hand in hand with eradicating energy poverty and with putting employment, equity, inclusion or affordability at the centre of the process. Energy planning has to be specific to each region, country or group of countries as it is strongly linked to the natural potential of the area in order to identify the adequate mixes of the different Renewable Energy Sources (RES) solutions.

Besides within the actual context, this energy transition should consider the potential of exploiting synergies with other energy and non-energy (water, food) resource infrastructures, which has rarely been considered in energy projects in Africa to date. RES potential in Africa is 1,000 times larger than the projected demand by 2040, so the low-carbon pathway is not simply about replacing polluting sources and covering the growing energy demand, but about preventing scenarios where this energy transition triggers conflicts in the use of resources (e.g. hydropower on water use or PV on land use) and seeking for appropriate trade-offs. These inextricable linkages between critical Water-Energy-Food (WEF) sectors, together with other domains such as climate, require a suitably integrated Nexus approach to ensure water and food security, sustainable agriculture and energy production.3 Furthermore, a sophisticated understanding of the intimate connections between the energy system and the economy at large scale is key in designing policies, along with an appreciation of the ways in which both are linked to the world’s ecosystems and human wellbeing.

Although African leaders have made clear their commitment to attaining inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in the Agenda 2063, it is necessary to support them in the definition of effective energy policy choices and to provide them with the scientific knowledge for (i) de-risking investments in RES projects, (ii) adopting a systemic approach to innovation, (iii) strengthening regulatory environments and/or (iv) integrating African electricity markets on existing regional power pools to reduce the cost of electricity through trade by maximizing the share or RES generation capacity. Theoretical models and in particular WEF Nexus models are an effective way to simulate policy scenarios to support the design and planning of resilient systems and infrastructures.


ECREEE is responsible for one of seven the Work Packages — “Definition of a Nexus common modelling framework”. The main objective of this Work Package is to define a specific methodology (gained with the experience coming from Consortium models) to develop local dynamic models at water basin scale including feasible policies that consider African challenges, the design of consistent future scenarios to be implemented in the models and the development of the ONEPlanET model’s database. The following specific interventions will be excuted:

  • Review of previous experiences in the modelling of Nexus systems in Africa selecting functions and functionalities to be implements by ONEPlanET models.
  • Development of conceptual models feeding SDMs in each selected basin.
  • Definition of a data exploitation and processing plan to create a Nexus database for model implementation.
  • Identification of feasible Nexus policies to be implemented in the models

3. ACHIEVED OUTPUTS (If the project is ongoing)

  • Stakeholder’s workshop at Niger River Basin (Bani) for Water Energy Food nexus policy selection, identification of functions and functionalities, conceptual maps verification, and stakeholder’s interviews.
  • Preparation underway to replicate the stakeholder’s meeting held in Bani for the Songwe River Basin in East Africa (Malawi & Tanzania) and the Inkomati-Usuthu Water Management Area (IUWMA) in Southern Africa (South Africa) in February 2024.