Ethiopia is slowly but surely establishing itself as a major power hub in Africa through its electricity exports. The Ethiopian Electric Service has said that the country made about $123 million (2.6 billion birr) between 2015 and 2016 budget year from the sale of electricity both locally and abroad. During a parliamentary session recently, the water, irrigation and electricity minister, Motuma Mekassa said “the Ethiopian Electric Service in general has collected a total of 2.6 billion birr in eight months, achieving 82 per cent of its target.”
Ethiopia which is a gold and coffee rich country, is reliant on emergency aid as a result of severe drought (just like Malawi and Zimbabwe) which has led to the malnutrition of about 430,000 children, not to mention women. However, since 2014, the country has turned its focus towards the sale of excess electricity to countries like Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan, while establishing grid links to South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Yemen.
Even though Ethiopia has been rife with political and social challenges, the country seems to have a grip on the power sector. Electricity exports account for over 7 percent of economic growth even as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is scheduled to be completed in 2017. With its 6,000 megawatts capacity, it will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric project.
According to Today.ng, Ethiopia earned close to $33 million from electric power sales to Djibouti in nine months of the 2013/2014 budget year, that is from July 8, 2013 to March 7, 2014. Last year, Ethiopia reportedly planned that by 2018, as a part of a cross-border effort to meet regional energy demand and limit increases in climate-changing emissions, it would export renewable energy to more neighboring countries, a major step in protecting the environment from bio-hazards.
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn has indicated however, that even though the country’s contributions to climate change may be small, it goes a long way to show that they are committed and will even motivate other countries to follow suit.
The government is aiming to develop a middle-income country by 2025. “Electricity is a major player and the driver of socio-economic development,”said the CEO, Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU), Gosaye Mengistie Abayneh at the time.