26 January 2016

East Africa: Power Generation for Regional Integration

editorial

In the current global world, countries future and fate is intermingled. Positive developments in one country spill over to other parts. Similarly, negative phenomena that occurs by natural event or by human activity in a given country, could have repercussion on other parts of the world. Today global warming and climate change, poverty eradication and trade relation has brought countries together for good outcome. On the other hand, terrorism, extremism and security threats alert countries to spend their meagre resources for the well-being of their citizens, that can be allocated for development.

However, we can safely argue that for most developing countries, eradication of ignorance, poverty, diseases, expansion of infrastructure, health and social service, enhancing food production and fighting hanger are common priority areas. In order to achieve development, first, countries should sort out what kind of resources they have at hand, how they could tap natural resources and mobilize domestic and international finance and technology. They as well could ultimately identify the type of energy their development scheme could be supported with. Here energy is both a means and an end for their development. Because, all economic sectors such as agriculture, industry and service essentially need energy. Without utilizing it, growth is unthinkable. On the other hand, energy makes a country economic powerful. By supplying energy, besides gaining hard currency, some countries, could be politically influential. Over the past decade, energy was proved to be a source of conflict at the international level. In contrary, countries suffering from energy deficit were facing hardship to meet their development endeavour. Because poverty in this sector means utilizing bio-mass energy which demolishes natural resource. As a result, nature-dependent agriculture will be at risk and the very livelihood of farmers will be put under question . Further more, these countries spend considerable amount of hard currency for the importation of carbon based petrochemical oil which in turn pollutes the environment.

Cognizant of the value of power generation, Ethiopia has long been devoting its finance, human resource and time for the expansion of energy from hydro power, wind, solar, geothermal, natural gas, among others. Commendable achievements are registered in this regard. But, energy development and security are not only a domestic affair rather they have already become regional affairs. As it is known, most rivers that originates from Ethiopia are border crossing and whenever a dam is constructed it should never harm the lower riparian countries. Such principle is underpinned by regional and international conventions. All border crossing rivers in the region are managed by such a rule. In addition to that, every activity in this regard, should never affect the water volume and never impact the environment. Also hydrological and soil texture of the region must not be affected because no single country achieve development unilaterally without cooperating with others. Similarly, energy development brings countries together for mutual benefit and economic integration. And Ethiopia's venture in this regard can be mentioned exemplary.

Ethiopia's power supply to countries such as Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti can be a case in point. Such a venture inspires the East African countries to stand together for full exploitation of energy resources. So that, they integrate themselves through power connectivity and energy market. To realize this, currently about ten East African countries have established a power pool, EAPP. The pool has its own office, secretariat and budget and by now it could attract would-be investors who have interest to involve in energy development. So far some partners have already begun to invest in the sector. When the ministerial committee summit kicked off here in Addis recently, the Ethiopian Electric Power reassured that, it will gear up towards power infrastructure development both for regional integration and expansion and reinforcement of domestic network. In addition, it strives for creating conducive and enabling regional environment for trade and optimal development of energy sources. So far, EAPP has achieved a lot. It has already developed a master plan, interconnection code and standard to be compiled by members utilities. It is also expected to analyse the tools, to compare current status of the system with the requirements of the interconnection code and to formulate power market guideline and to market rules for the future.

Significant efforts are also being made for timely implementation of major interconnection projects, which in the end, will bring the region close to inter connectivity. Thus all countries of the EAPP region will be connected by 2018.

As it is obvious, most of the East African countries' post-colonial history is characterized by political upheaval, social unrest and civil war. As a result, poverty and economic backwardness are rampant. The region is less integrated by various type of infrastructure. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy to all countries with no value addition. And this in turn put countries in a disadvantageous position in the international market. By and large, the region is not that much effective in human development aspect. With regard to demographic context, almost 70 per cent of the population is under the age of 30. This implies that governments should provide more education, social services and jobs to the youth there by they could create economically active citizens. But if they fail to do so, the negative repercussion might drive the region to another chaos.

However, optimistically speaking, the region has untapped abundant natural resource. As the region is part of the great east African rift valley system, it has abundant geothermal and natural gas resources which can dramatically change the economic landscape of the region. In this regard, the plentiful geothermal and natural gas available in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania can be mentioned. The recent petroleum discovery in Uganda has also flickered a ray of hope on the country and the region at large. Power connectivity in addition to economic integration should bring political stability. Because still the region is politically volatile which in turn creates a drawback on economic achievement.

Thus, to bring energy security and economic prosperity to the region, the East African Power Pool should be strengthened and countries must be committed to the objectives.

East Africa

Tanzania's Magufuli Skips Yet Another SADC Meet

President John Magufuli will once again not attend the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit slated for… Read more »

Copyright © 2016 The Ethiopian Herald. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 1,000 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.