The Tekeze hydropower
project in Ethiopia
 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 01 July 2011 – Ethiopia plans to sell power to Sudan, Yemen, Kenya and even Egypt, with whom it is at odds over the Nile’s waters, as it ramps up power production to become a major exporter on the African continent.

Reuters reports that the Ethiopian government aims to produce 20,000MW of power within the next 10 years “’ part of a plan to spend US$12 billion over 25 years to raise power generating capability.

Ethiopia is also building a 5,250MW hydropower dam along the Nile, while six other projects with an aggregate capacity of over 5,000MW are either planned or under construction.

“Whenever we are in a position to provide surplus to Sudan, it could go up to 100 or 200MW. This is the base of the first purchase agreement, but it depends on our capacity to avail extra power,” Mihret Debebe, chief executive of the state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, told Reuters in an interview here. “The market has no limit on exports to Sudan.”

Officials estimate that the hydropower potential of the nation “’ blessed with cascading rivers flowing through rugged mountains “’ is around 45,000MW.

Mihret said Ethiopia had already started transmitting 50MW to Djibouti, while exports to the eastern Sudanese towns of Gadarif and Gallabat were expected in one or two months.

Ethiopia will also provide 5MW to Kenya’s northern Moyale town next month, while an agreement has been signed to further connect to Yemen through Djibouti’s underwater sea cable, Mihret said.

The three countries have already signed a memorandum of understanding. Hopefully when the situation in Yemen stabilises we will proceed to this action,” he added.

The Horn of Africa nation also has plans to construct a 1,300km 500 kV transmission interconnector with Kenya to sell electricity to its southern neighbour. Ethiopia secured a multi-million dollar deal with France this month for the scheme.
Another project “’ a 3,000 km 500 kV line linking Ethiopia with Sudan and Egypt “’ is also planned. A feasibility study has already been carried out under the auspices of the Nile Basin Initiative, a grouping of nine countries along the river, Mihret said.

“When the three countries are ready to start the project and development partners’ financial allocation is in the right place, it will be started,” he added.

“The fact that Ethiopia has expedited the development of generation projects in the basin with such mega scale is definitely making a reality of the transmission line project,” Mihret continued

Reuters reports that the nine countries through which the river passes have for more than a decade been locked in often bitter talks to renegotiate colonial-era treaties that gave Egypt and Sudan the lion’s share of the river’s waters.

However, six of the nine upstream countries “’ Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi “’ have signed a new deal stripping Egypt of its veto and agreeing to renegotiate how much water each country is entitled to.