Ethiopia needs private investment to boost hydro

The head of Ethiopia’s electric utility told the nation’s electrical engineers that private investment is needed to help develop Ethiopia’s vast electricity sector.

Chairman Fikru Desalegn of Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. (EEPCO) addressed the Ethiopian Society of Electrical Engineers December 9, saying Ethiopia has water resources that could generate 45,000 MW of electricity, but is exploiting less than 1 percent of that potential.

In remarks reported by the state-run Ethiopian News Agency, Desalegn said participation of private investors in the power sector is minimal. Although favorable conditions are created with a view to involving private investors, Desalegn said, their participation is minimal because the sector requires a huge investment and it takes a long time to capture a return on investment.

Desalegn, who also is state minister of Capacity Building, said institutions engaged in the electric sector should be expanded because adequate supply of electric power is a basic infrastructure requirement for economic development.

The minister said the government is giving attention to construction of electric power stations capable of producing 2,170 MW as well as installation of additional transmission lines.

World Bank energy director Jamal Saghir recently said Ethiopia, which has drafted a plan for seven hydro projects totaling 6,000 MW, is one of the best candidates in the world for more hydro projects. (HNN 10/13/06) Italy’s Salini Costruttori SpA recently signed a US$1.75 billion deal to build the 1,870-MW Gilgel Gibe 3 hydroelectric project in Ethiopia’s Omo-Gibe River Basin.

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