Big plans for hydropower in Ethiopia05.04.11
The International Hydropower Association(IHA) invited the hydropower community to Addis Ababa for the conference “Hydropower for Sustainable Development 2011”, more than 200 representatives from governments and industry attended.
Prime minister Zenawi of Ethiopia opened the conference by underlining the importance of hydropower for his country, and the plans for development of hydropower in Ethiopia are indeed impressive – 8 GW during a 5 years period. The Government does however not want to for IPPs at this stage, although plans for this exist. The financing of this extensive projects is of this reason somewhat uncertain. In fact several mega projects were presented by the governments from the region. The Grand Inga project in DRC, with a planned installed capacity of 40GW being the largest.
The Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa had put together a delegation of government and industry representatives for this conference, also facilitating a seminar on Ethiopian - Norwegian cooperation and a field trip to the Gilgel Gibe I hydropower plant. The Embassy and Norad are engaged in several projects in the region. The Ministry’s press release on the development of the Millennium Dam – a 5 600 MW HPP downstream from the sites where Norwegian consultants have been conducting studies – was not received well.
The field trip to the Gilgel Gibe I HPP, included a comprehensive guided tour of the whole plant. Installed capacity of the plant is 184 MW, a stone filled dam some 10 km upstream for the power house created the reservoir, giving a head of 110m. Three vertical Francis turbines and generators of 73 MW delivers the electricity to the grid.
Compared to other countries in the region, Ethiopia seems to have some way to go before it will become an attractive country for investments in the energy sector. As mentioned above, the Government has not yet opened for IPPs and contracts offered are EPC or EPC + F, which does not seem to be awarded using bidding procedures. An aid funded consultancy market exist, but private business engagements seem to be a thing for the future.