Alternative energy sources will not only help Ethiopia's target of achieving universal electricity access by 2025, but it also cultivates huge business opportunity to the private sector, according to a high-level energy expert.
Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, Yeheyis Eshetu, Acting Director of Alternative Energy Technology Transfer Directorate with Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE), said that while the government is working to rapidly accelerate access to electricity to the entire population by 2025, it is clear that there must also be more effective and aggressive off-grid alternatives, to national power grid, for the rural population living in remote areas. And this is where alternative energy sources like biomass and solar energy come into play and provide intermediary solutions.
The Director also stated that off-grid systems alongside the national grid are keys to create energy access, and both will be expanded alongside each other so that the country can achieve universal electricity access. "In addition to electric coverage, the 2025 vision emphasizes on household connectivity for the realization of adequate reliable and affordable electricity for every citizen. In that regard, 35 percent coverage will be provided from off-grid solution, mostly from solar energy."
According to Yeheyis, alternative or renewable energy sources are not seen or taken as just alternative energy sources for the country, or an option, but the main energy sources as per the country's green economy strategy, the CRGE (climate resilient green economy).
The Director noted that Ethiopia's goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2025 is a very ambitious and difficult objective, and the only way it would be attained is if the country is able to avail its alternative energy sources through the full involvement of the private sector.
Also, Yeheyis pointed out that facilitating the involvement of the private sector, in addition to other measures, through various incentives will help further foster and cultivate the country's alternative energy sources, as it would become less costly to use them. He also mentioned on the need of bypassing some barriers facing the sector in order to fully utilize from the involvement of the private sector.
"One thing is market penetration, which will be slow due to the fact that our private sector is new to alternative/renewable energy. So, if we are able to marketize the sector, and familiarize the private sector with it, we can elevate the sector's contribution."
He also indicated on the need of setting up integrative framework (between the relevant bodies from the federal to the regional level) so as to bypass the barriers.
Given that alternative or renewable energy sources are closely related to technology transfer and research, Yeheyis said that localizing the transfer process is vital. Just copying the technology will not make the process successful, as it demands or needs syncing (taking into account) the technology to the local energy realities and needs, he added.
Sharing his vision of where the sector will be in five more years, Yeheyis said that the sector will be a huge sector that involves many people. "I believe that a commercialized market where the private sector is heavily involved will be created."