Ethiopia began power exports to its Horn of Africa neighbor Djibouti, an Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. spokesman said.
The electricity shipments began on May 27, Addis Tagele, a spokesman for the state-owned utility, said in a phone interview today from Addis Ababa, the capital.
“The maximum at the moment is about 20 megawatts,” he said.
Ethiopia plans to produce as much as 8,000 megawatts of additional electricity from hydropower sources over the next five years, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on April 30. The country will generate most of the power that will be traded among nine countries that are expected to connect to a regional grid by 2016, according to the Eastern Africa Power Pool.
Construction of a $4.76 billion, 5,250-megawatt project near the Sudanese border was announced on April 2 by Meles. The country’s hydropower potential of 45,000 megawatts is second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo on the continent, according to the World Bank.
A World Bank-funded transmission line to Sudan may be completed this year, Raihan Elahi, the World Bank’s senior energy specialist in Ethiopia, said last month. There is an agreement for Ethiopia to supply as much as 200 megawatts to Sudan, he said.
The African Development Bank provided a total of $95 million to Djibouti and Ethiopia for the project that links the two countries, Ethiopia Resident Representative Lamin Barrow said today in a phone interview from Addis Ababa.
“The beauty of the project is that Ethiopian and Djibouti have diverse peaks,” he said. “So supply will be very easy.”
The connection will bring Djibouti cheap energy to fund its industrial development and is expected to generate $10 million for Ethiopia in the first year, according to Barrow. The foreign exchange earned by Ethiopia can “be ploughed back into fund its Universal Electrification Access Program,” he said.
Ethiopia plans to increase access to electricity to as much as 75 percent of the population in July 2015 from 41 percent now, according to the government’s five-year growth plan.
To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at firstname.lastname@example.org.