19 July 2010 – Ethiopia will begin selling hydropower-generated electricity to neighboring Sudan by September this year.

Supplies to Sudan will total about 200 megawatts, while 150 megawatts may also be sold to Djibouti should there be sufficient supplies, said Mekuria Lemma, head of strategic management and programming at the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corp.

Gilgel Gibe II, which halted production in January following a tunnel collapse, is expected to resume output by the end of July. Production at Tana Beles, the country’s largest plant, and Tekeze is also expected to be at full capacity following recent rains. The three plants produce a combined 1,180 megawatts of power.

"We have lots of water in all our reservoirs," Mekuria said in an interview on July 12 in the capital, Addis Ababa. "We are in a good position now."

Ethiopia has Africa’s second-biggest potential hydropower capacity of 45,000 megawatts, according to the World Bank. Congo has the largest. Rainfall in Ethiopia was average or above average in April and May in most parts of the country, according to the National Meteorological Agency. In June, when the main rainy season starts, average or above average precipitation was recorded in central and western areas. 

Kenya is in talks with Ethiopia to import 500 megawatts of electricity and a feasibility study has been completed on a transmission line to the East African country, Mekuria said.

The African Development Bank provided a $1 million loan for the design of the line, which is expected to be built by 2014, Solomon Asfaw, an Ethiopia-based energy specialist at the bank, said in an interview.

In addition, the bank is co-funding the construction of a 283-kilometer (176-mile) 230 kilovolt transmission line from the eastern Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa to Djibouti. The network, which will be able to supply 260 megawatts of power, will be completed within two months, Solomon said.

Ethiopia’s current generating capacity is about 2,000 megawatts, including the 420 megawatts from Gilgel Gibe II, EEPCO spokesman Misiker Negash said in an interview. There are plans to increase that to 8,000 megawatts, Mekuria said.