25 January 2010

Ethiopia: Solar Street Lights in Meskel Sq. May Light Way Ahead

JB World Solar System Plc is to power street lights around Meskel Square using solar panels as a demonstration to win a contract from the Addis Abeba City Roads Authority (AACRA) to transform all street lights in the city into solar; an agreement was reached with AACRA for the trial phase on January 11, 2010.

JB World, a sister company of Infinite Power Solutions (IPS), a company based in Colorado, United States, was established a year ago in Ethiopia with a capital of 4.7 million dollars, and has arranged agreements with the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) and AACRA regarding solar energy expansion in the country, according to, Dawit Abebe, chief executive officer of the company.

The company will start by removing electric lines and placing solar panels on 10 poles along Jomo Kenyatta Street from Meskel Square. It will also install batteries and electric regulators. The changes will be made on the existing poles.

The batteries will be a backup for solar power failures on cloudy and rainy days, Dawit said. The regulator switches the light on automatically after sunset and switches it off at sunrise.

The solar panels can provide 12 hours of lighting if exposed to just two hours of sunlight, according to Dawit. His solar power solution includes a guarantee of 25 years and could cut costs by 30pc for AACRA's maintenance and power consumption expense of 15 million Br, he said.

"With solar power we will need to change the bulbs only once in 10 years," he said.

AACRA will not pay for the pilot project, according to Fekade Haile (Eng.), general manager, who added that if the project succeeds and proceeds to mass installation, the revenue from that will more than cover the costs of the pilot project.

The company is eyeing hospitals, clinics and schools in urban and rural areas for expansion, according to Dawit, who expressed satisfaction at the current trend of solar power in the country with increased private sector investment interest and government encouragement.

If his business is widely accepted, he hopes to be able to employ up to 400 people at JB World.

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