Black Rhino looks at renewable power investments in Ethiopia – Reuters

by Zelalem

ADDIS ABABA Oct 28 Black Rhino, owned by funds
of U.S. investment company Blackstone Group, said on
Wednesday it was looking at investments in Ethiopia’s power
generation sector.

A foray into the country’s power industry would be Black
Rhino’s second large-scale infrastructure involvement after it
signed framework agreements last month to build a fuel pipeline
between Djibouti and Ethiopia.

The $1.55 billion pipeline, due for completion in 2018, aims
to improve efficiency and safety of importing fuel from the port
in Djibouti to the land-locked country.

“We are currently assessing other opportunities in Ethiopia
such as hydro and wind. That is something we are very interested
in and engaged in,” Shilesh Muralidhara, a Johannesburg-based
developer at Black Rhino, said.

“We want to be here for the long term,” he told Reuters.

With one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies,
Ethiopia wants to become a manufacturing hub and Africa’s top
electricity exporter by tapping the numerous rivers that flow
across its highlands.

Ethiopia has an array of projects under construction, such
as the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam that will churn out
6,000 megawatts upon completion within the next five years, as
well as 1,800-megawatt Gilgel Gibe 3 Dam in its southern region.

Under a new 2015-2020 development plan, Addis Ababa also
wants to add 12,000 additional megawatts of capacity through
planned projects from hydropower, wind and geothermal sources.

Experts say the country has the potential to generate 45,000
megawatts of hydropower.

In 2013, Ethiopia signed a $4 billion deal with
U.S.-Icelandic firm Reykjavik Geothermal to construct a 1,000 MW
geothermal power plan. When complete, the project will be the
first utility to be run privately in Ethiopia.

Azeb Asnake, Chief Executive of state-run Ethiopian Electric
Power, told Reuters on Wednesday the body was in talks with 14
international firms for possible partnership deals.

Ethiopia bars some sectors from foreign investors, including
banking, telecoms and retail.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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