Ethiopia’s energy policy is playing a crucial role in its quest for growth. It is designed to make the most of the country’s geography and one of its most precious natural resources: water.
Ethiopia generates 85% of its energy from hydroelectric plants and their influence both at home and abroad is set to increase in the coming years. The government is investing €12 billion or the equivalent of a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to increase its capacity to produce hydroelectric power. With this massive financial commitment, it aims to have the country produce 40,000 MW from hydroelectric projects across the country by 2035.
This ambitious goal dates back decades, however. Since the 1960s, Ethiopia has been building dams. With the help of Salini Impregilo, it would later embark on ambitious projects like the three dams along the Gilgel Gibe River, two others on the Beles River and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is still being built on the Blue Nile. The most recent is Koysha, a fourth dam for the Omo River. What arises from all of this construction is an interconnected production and distribution network of hydroelectric power for domestic and foreign markets.
There is no question about the demand for electricity, as shown by figures from Ethiopian Electric Power, the public entity responsible for overseeing investments, production, distribution as well as the sale of electricity since 1948. In the last five years, demand has grown at an average rate of 25% a year, and it is expected to increase to 32% in the coming years. Then there is the opportunity to sell electricity to neighboring countries.
Making its electricity available to other countries is an essential part of Ethiopia’s fight against poverty and its economic backwardness.
Salini Impregilo’s involvement in the construction of hydroelectric dams supported by public financing underlines the need to make the most of the country’s abundant water resources and the government’s goal develop in a sustainable way that is respectful of the environment in order to become carbon neutral by 2025.