23 February 2018

Ethiopia: Meeting Energy Demands of Booming Population


Ethiopia's population has reached more than 100 million. From this number, 70 percent of it lives in rural areas of the country. Having understood the ensuing chronic energy problem in the country, the government has been launching renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar, wind and biogas to solve the problem.

The launching of these projects across the length and breadth of the country has helped to increase the national forest cover while contributing to the green development.

Bio-gas technology, being one of the alternative energy source, has been used in many rural parts of the country. The government has distributed thousands of bio-digesters throughout the country so far. Biogas is playing pivotal role in replacing the utilization of wood, charcoal and other resources and ensuring green economy.

According to the National Biogas Program of Ethiopia (NBPE), biogas technology was first launched in Ethiopia in 1979. Since then, it has shown tremendous progress. It has brought several advantages to the rural people. Biogas has enhanced agriculture produce and productivity. Moreover, it ensures environmental sustainability as it has role of reducing deforestation and land degrading incidents.

Such technology use is also equivalent to easing women/girls hassling, it has both health and education implications to this section of the community. It gives ample opportunity for women and girls to avoid social menace such as abudction, and help school girls to invest their time at schools and studies.

As biotechnology is getting due focus, government and non-government organizations are supporting those who engage in research and innovation activities. Getu Alemayehu is among the young innovators who invented biogas fueled injera stove in 2012. He told The Ethiopian Herald that his baking stove has hugely benefited the rural Ethiopians.

"It was first applied in various Woredas of the Amhara state. Now it has become popular in Tigray, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz states. I have planned to distribute it to the rest of the nation. In addition to this, I would make continuous upgrading activities," he comments.

Getu is grateful that his company was registered as a profitable company. The 53 cm wide clay-made stove (Mitad in Amharic) would be expected to change the traditional Injera baking. More than this, it would have immense benefit for the rural women and girls. This will be important to produce healthy and productive citizens who would play their significant role in development of the country.

"Our mothers and sisters have been living in difficult situation due to energy scarcity and lack of modern stoves. The stove, which is already invented by the Company, will support many mothers and girls. Young girls would save their time using the biogas fueled stove and prevent their health as well," Getu said.

Besides, he is working to improve his innovation and the first improved one is already tested in five households that it was proved to bake great number of injera with special quality.

Another advantage of biogas fuelled stove is that it could not pollute the environment. Thus, it would prevent the health of everyone. It would also have massive role in safeguarding the well being of young girls who gather firewood in remote jungles. They have been vulnerable to rape and abduction and this backward act had been affecting their future. In addition to this, it will contribute its part for sustaining green economic development.

Even though biogas energy source has shown tremendous development over the last few years, the government, non-government organizations should step up their efforts to proliferate it more. Entrepreneurs like Getu should be supported and encouraged to contribute more in renewable energy sources. If so, the nation's ambition to ensure Climate Resilient Green Economy would be materialized. Though the government has been striving tirelessly to realize basic social service institutions and infrastructure, there are still many things to be done. Among the very important endeavors that should be accomplished includes the energy sector.

Documents show that during the GTP-I period, 8.9 million biomass stoves were distributed nationwide. And during GTP-II, the plan is to distribute 11.45 biogas stoves and 31, 400 improved biogas technology as well as 20, 000 household biofuel stoves and biofuel blending technologies. Thus, youths' innovations need to be encouraged for it has double purpose--self-employment and attaining the GTP-II goals set for the energy sub-sector.


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