CNN on January 3, 2017 reported that Ethiopia’s bubble is not bursting even after a decade of rapid growth. Dubbed the ‘African Lion’ by economists, Ethiopia is becoming the home of booming industry, new infrastructure, and showpiece summits. It has become a powerful force in the region and beyond. To maintain this golden age, this East African state is pressing ahead with ambitious development plans where renewable energy is one of the main objectives to the mission.
According to CNN, Ethiopia is among the most daring signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to cut carbon emissions by 64% by 2030. The government has ploughed billions of dollars into hydropower megaprojects such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD),which will be the largest Dam in Africa.
It said Ethiopia has targeted to become the wind power capital of Africa. The country had inaugurated one of the continent’s largest Ashedoga wind farms in 2013 at the cost of 290 million USD. It has also a potential to generate 120 MW. This was followed by the even larger 153 MW Adama II facility in 2015. But wind accounted for just 324 MW of Ethiopia’s total output of 4,180 MW, with the vast majority coming from hydropower.
This figure has been set to see dramatic change in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) that will see total output pass 17,000 MW by 2020, and vast increase of share from the air. The government has plan to develop at least five further wind farms, and potentially many more, aiming to deliver up to 5,200 MW from wind power within four years. The cost is officially calculated at 3.1 billion USD although other estimates place it over 6 billion USD.
Currently, the primary concern of many Africa countries is formulation of policies and strategies and devising ways that adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. In this regard, Ethiopia is one of the frontline countries that have been adopting national climate resilience strategies with a view to applying green development integrated with crosscutting issues of the country.
Ethiopia has been aware of impacts of environmental damage and degradation since long. Nowadays, it is increasingly setting an example on how to combat climate change, parallel to achieving economic growth. According to Inter Press Service (IPS), the country is very well known by the international community as one of the front-runners and advocates of international climate change policy.
Nation has also taken in to account the very fact that critical challenge facing developing countries is achieving sustainable economic prosperity along with developing resilience to climate change. Cognizant of this hurdle, Ethiopia has been diligently striving to harness its intact and abundant water resources to generate huge hydro-electric power. Today, massive public infrastructure works are well underway to expedite this immense potential to lift the country out of excruciating indigence.
In line with this, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation said that the nation has been conducting numerous feasibility studies to help identify its full potential of power generation and assess the number of plants it can construct and connect to the National Grid. The nation understands the very fact that it is essential to diversify the sources of power and multiply the amount of production many folds; eyed at sustaining the current voracious need to electricity that is growing by over 25 percent per annum.
According to the Corporation, Ethiopia is blessed with desirable nature for harvesting wind. Its mountainous topography can help build coveted wind power capacity as much as becoming regional hub of wind power; Ethiopia is one of the most promising countries in the continent from the perspective of generating tremendous amount of wind power. And it is developing wind alongside hydropower that delivers most of the country’s renewable energy.
Wind power is expected to deliver wider benefits for communities through training and creation of new job opportunities around sites. Further, wind plants are expected to strengthen Ethiopia’s position in the region through trade. It has offered new options and the country has started to export power to its neighbors such as Sudan and Kenya.
According to International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the country’s Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy (CRGE)was commenced in 2011 by the initiation of the government. It was initially spearheaded by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that enabled the CRGE to be backed by strong political support. The Strategy has been taken as an opportunity to transform the country’s fast-track development and help it leapfrog to modern and energy-efficient development trajectories.
The Institute witnessed that Ethiopia has devised ingenious mechanism for the realization of CRGE. The nation is interested to support its fruitfulness through committed leadership, formulation of outstanding plan and enhancement of implementation capacity. In this regard, CRGE is being coordinated and overseen by the CRGE Ministerial Steering Committee (an initiative under the Prime Minister’s Office), the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
It said Ethiopia not only formulated CRGE, but also its Climate Resilient Green Economic Strategy demonstrates greater commitment to outpace the conventional approach of green economy development. The Strategy assumes that conventional development path may result in proliferation of carbon emissions and rapid depletion of natural resources; emission should be conquered by far-reaching mechanisms that could curb it as quickly as possible.
Ethiopia is one of the few countries that have formally merged their aims of developing green economy with greater resilience to climate change. To this end, the government is industriously working to expedite national climate resilience objective and its effort has enabled to thrive Green Economy spirit of the CRGE.
Further more, the nation is exerting tireless effort to develop green economy by expanding electricity generation from renewable energy sources (wind, water, geothermal) for domestic and regional markets. In doing so, the country will leapfrog to modern and energy-efficient technologies in transport and industry.
In relation to green development, GTP-II focuses on expanding renewable energy sources which are clean and carbon-free including hydropower, wind energy, geothermal energy and solar energy sources to fulfill the energy demand of the country. Focus will also be given to generating adequate power to support the rapid economic and social transformation of the country.
Hence, Ethiopia will leave no stone unturned to realize its power generation capacity targeted in the GTP-II. A case in point, inauguration of the Gibe III hydroelectric project with 1870 MW capacity is a showcase of national electrification prowess to undertake same megaprojects of power development (as big as GERD with 6000 MW and many more in the future). Many more projects are on the pipe line which would make Ethiopia power house of Africa, besides satisfying the growing energy demand of the country.
The major strategic focus of GTP II is to build Climate Resilient Green Economy. In line with this, intervention targets are set for the sector. Accordingly, awareness raising activities on CRGE will be undertaken with effective involvement and participation of about 20,000,000 members of the community. Besides, knowledge and skills of 10,875 executive bodies that are engaged in CRGE and other sustainable development activities will be enhanced.
To this end, financial sources which enable to build the green economy will be mobilized. In order to ensure benefits from green technologies for better achievement of CRGE and sustainable development endeavors, support will be provided to 100,000 households. In addition, 147 million metric tonnes of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHE) will be reduced through coordinated and supportive actions on those sectors which are identified under CRGE strategy. Over all development endeavor is harmonized with the country’s ambition to achieve middle income status by 2025. Currently, the government is spurring the country to achieve its mission of development in a carbon neutral way. The nation believes that transformation of the economy and ensuing extrication of poverty could be realized through green development.
Ethiopia’s energy sources are by and large clean as the sources of energy are predominantly renewable sources like wind and hydro-power. Currently, it is striving to build national power generation capacity in environment-friendly, a breast of intensifying effort to ensure energy efficiency and environment sustainability.
Despite the challenges related to finance and technological know how, Ethiopia is striving a lot to capitalize on its current economic growth by becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change: developing the economy and aspiring to achieve middle-income status by 2025 in a carbon neutral way.
By Fekadu Wubete