Millions wait years for Electricity

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Over four million customers of the Ethiopian Electric Utility have been waiting a decade to get electricity.
Budget constraints, forex shortage, being unable to work on an off grid system, limited capacity of production cables are being blamed for the delay connecting electric lines to households.
“The capital investment cost of energy sector is substantial. To address this we are promoting public private partnerships and private sector independent power producing schemes to meet the country’s energy need,” Sileshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy said.
Beside shortage of hard currency, there is a significant problem with local cable production and the demand of the Ethiopian Electric Utility.
According to data from Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, the country needs 33 million meters of cable per annum while local cable producers are only able to make three million meters a year.
“As we are in a reform, the ministry is working hard to compensate the backlogs through various schemes,” Sileshi said.
Ethiopia launched the national electrification program in 2017 with the support of international development partners and financing from the World Bank to achieve 100 percent energy access by 2025.
Despite the progress made so far, only 44 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity. The per capita consumption of electricity is only 100kw which is one of the lowest in Sub Saharan Africa.
The ministry began a pilot program in 12 towns with the goal of reaching 35 percent of rural areas that can be accessed off grid.
Presently, Ethiopia is able to generate 4,300MW from water dams, three wind farms, many small diesel generators and waste to energy based power plants.
Mega projects like GERD, Koysha, Genale- Dawa hydroelectric dams will jointly produce additional 8724 MW which is double the current generation capacity, according to the Ministry.
The government is working to change the 97 percent of the hydro dominated power generation to mix with other alternatives because hydro is affected by climate change. As a result, Ethiopia began power rationing last month as the water level dropped significantly at Gibe III. Ethiopia looses an estimated 3.3 million USD as a result of power outages per year.
The Ethiopian Electric Utility has 2.9 million customers.