Ethiopia makes plans to become Africa’s clean energy hub

October 14, 2021
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Of those projects, 16 are hydro-power, 24 wind, 17 steam, and 14 are solar, making the model arguably one of the world’s biggest policy shifts towards clean energy and potentially building Ethiopia into a leader in clean energy in Africa.

At the same time, Ethiopia will bolster its electricity generating capacity from the current 4,200 MW to around 35,000 MW by 2037.

The East African state is inching closer to commissioning its controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which at 6,000 MW, will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa, as well as the 8th largest in the world.

Upon completion, the dam will double Ethiopia’s electricity generation. However, it is also expected to reduce the flow of the Nile flow to Sudan and Egypt during reservoir filling – a source of friction with its downstream neighbours.

Executive Officer at the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), Andualem Siae, said the government will offset the bulk of the projected cost of the clean energy model with additional funding from private and public partnerships, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and other partners and financiers.

In the proposed deal, Saudi Arabia’s Aqua Power Company will build two of the 14 solar projects. Siae further revealed that negotiations are underway with the UAE’s Amia Company to build the Aisha I wind farm project, with bidding underway to award developers for the remaining wind power projects.

Ethiopia already consumes less power during its weekends than it produces, creating a surplus for export to its neighbours. In the fiscal year 2020/2021, Ethiopia made nearly $100m from energy exports to Sudan and Djibouti and with the completion of these projects, Ethiopia is hoping to become a dominant player in the region’s energy sector.

While noting the revenue that Ethiopia earned from energy exports, Moges Mekonen, Communication Director at Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP), offered that the country was able to deliver some 1,000MW to neighbouring states.

With increased power generating capacity, the East African state also expects to sell electricity to Kenya and establish grid links to South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Yemen across the Red Sea.

Challenging Ethiopia’s hydropower dominance is the DRC, which plans to commence the construction of its Grand Inga “Inga Dam’s 3” hydro-power project by the end of this year.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has previously stated that Inga is one of the infrastructure projects that the country would push during his year as African Union chair.

Ethiopia and the DRC, are home to two of the continent’s greatest rivers, with a major source of the Nile in the former, and the Congo River winding through the latter. Ethiopia also has significant sun and wind opportunities to create considerable amounts of clean energy.

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