Ethiopia: Power Shortage Suspends Abattoir's Operations

Finished with an expansion project that consumed half a billion Birr, Organic Export Abattoir Plc has not begun operations at the new facility due to a lack of power supply.

Organic Export Abattoir, which exports organic sheep and goat meat, completed the construction and installation of the machinery of the slaughterhouse, which requires 32kV of electric power to start operations. The transmission lines from the nearest substation are already installed, but it has not had power for two years, according to Alem Mengistu, founder of Organic.

"We've submitted a letter to Ethiopian Electric Power to receive power and are waiting for their response," said Alem.

Resting on 100,000Sqm of land, the construction of the expansion plant began in 2015 and was expected to start operations after six months with 400 employees.

Cogemat Slaughtering Systems, an Italian company that was established in 1988, designed the plant and installed the slaughterhouse machinery.

The facility is equipped with Italian cattle processing machinery, a de-boning room [a system that removes the bones from meat], meat and by-product processing facilities, refrigerators, cold trucks, animal supply trucks, a wastewater treatment plant, biogas systems and an electric power generator.

The expansion is expected to increase the annual production capacity of Organic's business by 30,000tn and generate 75 million dollars from exports.

Located in Modjo, Oromia Regional State, the company was founded by Alem, who also founded Meridian Hotel, which is located in Bole District in the capital. Organic was established in 2006 with 20 million dollars and has been exporting sheep and goat meat for the past 14 years. It operates with 200 permanent and temporary employees at its existing abattoir.

The objective of the expansion is to explore new product categories and enter new market opportunities to generate foreign currency, according to Alem.

In the last fiscal year, the company generated 11.3 million dollars by exporting 2,070tn of processed goat and sheep meat to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"To meet the increasing demand for beef in the international market, the company will add beef as one of its export products," said Alem.

"We're supporting the company, providing capacity building training, creating market linkages, conducting promotional activities and research," said Mekonen Goshu, deputy director at the Ethiopian Meat & Dairy Industry Development Institute, which was established in 2008 and assists companies in the meat, milk processing, honey and wax processing, animal feed and fish industries.

Mohammed Aman, assistant professor at the School of Agricultural Economy & Agribusiness at Haramaya University, suggests the company work on quality, including sourcing organic meat and livestock free from any disease.

"International buyers want organic and healthy red meat," said Mohammed. "Exporting such kinds of products will help the company generate sustainable revenue."

Mohammed also fears that the company may face a shortage of live animals since there is a broad contraband activity in the livestock market.

Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa and the tenth in the world. Out of the over 300 abattoirs in the country, 11 of them are export-oriented and generated 95.5 million dollars from the planned 192.7 million dollars in the last fiscal year. The revenue came from the export of 19,104tn of meat.

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