" I really enjoyed reading the news in several media about an incredible discovery: Apparently there are aquifers below the soil of Africa ………………..!!!!!! and there is WATER in the aquifers…..Who would have suspected that?"
That short email, sent to me and a hundred or so other hydrogeologists last week, oozed...no, gushed like a spring from a karst aquifer - with sarcasm from a hydrogeologist who knows the African hydrogeological landscape. Like the rest of us on the list, the sender was not surprised by size of Africa's groundwater reserves, but surprised that it was making news now.
The sender also referenced this Reuters article from 20 April 2012. The BBC originally broke the story. Here is an informative blog post by Roger Calow.
It's been known for some time that much of Africa - primarily the northern part of the continent where there are thick sequences of sedimentary rocks - is underlain by a lot of groundwater. The western and southern part of the continent contain some rocks that generally are not productive aquifers, but can supply small boreholes fitted with handpumps.