By Zeraye Hailemariam
It is an internationally recognized fact that Ethiopia has managed to register all rounded political and economic development which has laid the foundation to become a lower middle income country in the near future. Huge foreign and local investments in various key areas like vast manufacturing and industry sectors are booming consistently.
The First and Second Growth and Transf ormation Plans are expected to bring fundamental structural transformation: that is, from agriculture based to industry based economy. Due to this, the demand for electricity has enlarged significantly at 25 percent every year. And energy becomes priority for the government to realize substantial Mega Power producing projects aiming at maintaining the speedy and deepening economic development. Hence, to meet the demand of the nation prompt economic growth, supplying dependable and sufficient power is required.
Accordingly, Ethiopia has been harnessing its vast water resources in a bid to generate electricity so that the steady economic growth would not be interrupted. So far, the country has managed to own a capacity over 4238 Mega Watt per annum. What is more remarkable is that the power is produced in an environment friendly fashion and is availing an indispensable advantage during incidences of drought.
Besides, it is among the pillar policies projected to advance regional economic integration and cooperation on security. Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya are already interconnected with Ethiopia by all economic endeavors including power.
The game changing hydro and wind farm projects realized in the last decade are redeeming the nation from power shortfall. Gibe, Gibe II, Tekeze, Ashegoda wind, Adama wind farms, Tana Beles etc have gone operational five years ago and are playing key role in maintaining the current fast economic growth.
To uphold the rapid demand of electricity, the Ethiopian Electric Power is also undertaking the following projects. Gibe III Hydro Power Plant has gone fully operational which is expected to add additional 1800 MW.
However, given Ethiopia’s ambitious economic growth and other demanding factors on top of its 100 million people, and the plan to integrate the whole region by power, the current power would not have been enough.
Thus, Ethiopia has projected to build additional mega projects intended to produce 12,000 MW by 2020. It is expected to incur a total cost of over 25 billion dollars to the projects. With one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies, Ethiopia wants to become a manufacturing hub and Africa’s top energy exporter by tapping the numerous rivers that cascade through its highlands.
Experts say the Horn of Africa nation has the potential to generate 45,000 megawatts from hydro-power sources.
The country’s priority is to assure domestic power requirements but given demand still remains unimportant; a huge amount of electricity produced will be exported.
Ethiopia already sells little amount of power to neighbors Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti. It has signed memorandums of understanding with South Sudan, Tanzania and Rwanda, while an underwater power link with Yemen is also in the pipeline. Once Ethiopia’s grand plans are complete, it wants to export power to countries in North and southern Africa and beyond.
“We have sufficient resources to power a very large part of Africa,” said Azeb Asnake, CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power.
Other major African producers such as South Africa and Egypt boast electric generation capacity of about 42,000 MW and 34,000 MW respectively, though their actual production is lower as many plants are old and need to be temporarily closed for maintenance, according to Reuters.
These would suffice with regard to the planned projects; let’s see the following projects underway.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam launched in 2011 with massive mobilization of the people and government of Ethiopia has reached its construction to 57 percent. The 4.7 billion dollars project is expected to produce 6450 mega watt electricity, besides its huge economic and political benefit. More than 11000 foreigners and Ethiopians are working 24 hours to realize the dam in the set time. The dam is regarded as game changer for Ethiopia and the region in history as it can strengthen regional integration after eliminating power shortages hindering economic growth.
Genale Dawa III hydro power project is underway and its construction has reached 60%. The total cost is 451 Million Dollars.
Wind farm projects
Adama II Wind Farm with a generation capacity of 153 mega watts reached 99% to go operational.
Geothermal Power projects
Alulta geothermal project is expected to generate 70 Mega Watts with a total cost of 178 million dollars. It is expected to go operational in 2020.
The Rappie waste energy project is almost in its phase of completion reaching 90%. It is about to provide 50 Mega Watt of electricity. 120 Million Dollars was injected to realize the plant located in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Electric Power authority has allocated more than 58 billion birr for the 2015/16 fiscal year. According to Azeb Asnake, Ethiopia will have 17,000 Mega Watts total power generation capacity by the end of GTP II.
The country will successfully provide enough power generation to the ever booming industry and manufacturing sectors, besides availing export enough power to Tanzania, Kenya, Djibouti, Sudan, and Somalia which will enable it earn billion dollar foreign currency which in turn help raise export earnings. The energy sector is renewable and is in support of the globally motivated struggle against the ever growing climate change threat which is a threat to the human existence. Ethiopia should be appreciated and encouraged in this regard.
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