31 January 2016

East Africa: Ethiopia Near to Exporting Power

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/World Bank
File photo.

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia wants to become a leading electricity exporter in Africa after reaching initial agreements with several neighbouring countries writes JOHN SAMBO.

Gosaye Mengistie Abayneh, the CEO of Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) said recently, "Our vision is to interconnect the entire network in the African continent and beyond.

"This is a very good opportunity for us. There is a very good know-how these days and a very good confidence built among nations, especially among African countries," he said.

He said in an interview the Ethiopia-Djibouti Power Interconnection has a huge impact beyond interconnectivity.

"It was a turning point for the relations of both countries. Same with the positive relationship with Sudan and with South Sudan. We have also recently achieved an agreement with countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to interconnect with infrastructure, including electric power," he said.

Abayneh said the Ethiopia-Kenya relationship is at an advanced stage because of the highway and the transmission line that is under construction.

He said: "Once we finish the Ethiopia-Kenya Transmission Line we can interconnect with Tanzania and beyond, followed by the interconnection with South African Power Pool. We can also reach northern Africa through Sudan and Egypt."

He said the government is aiming to develop a middle-income country by 2025. "Electricity is a major player and the driver of socio-economic development," he said.

However Abayneh said there are good opportunities for private investors to come and invest in power.

One geothermal venture underway will produce some 500MW.

"We have different programs to enhance energy access for our population. One is the universal access program, which we have been launching for almost 10 years.

"We tried to electrify at least more than 5,000 rural villages and towns, but we still have a lot to do to achieve universal access to electricity," he said.

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