Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Three new micro hydropower plants in Southern Ethiopia

Small rivers are being used to get people living in hard to reach areas on the electrical grid.

Three micro hydropower plants have been inaugurated in the villages of Ererte, Gobecho and Hagara Sodicha in Sidama zone in the Southern Nations and Nationalities People’s Regional State (SNNPRS).

The power plants have a power generation capacity of 125 Kilowatts. This is enough power to light up over 17,000 energy saving bulbs that have been provided to over 22,000 residents in the area in an environmentally friendly electrical power project.

Small rivers and waterfalls could generate electricity to energize many off-grid rural areas in Ethiopia.  However, this potential is often not used. The government of Ethiopia is working to expand these off-grid power plants on the banks of many small rivers and waterfalls.

“These kinds of projects [micro power projects] have to be implemented in other areas to diversify electrification projects in rural areas especially the places that are not on the main grid,” an official at the Ministry of Water and Energy told Capital.

Bart jan van Beuzekom, head of Hydropower Unit electrification department, said that the project will expand to the southern and south western part of the country, which enjoys a  high level of rainfall.

“Despite the fact that around 97 percent of the electricity in Ethiopia is generated from hydropower, only about three percent of the entire potential is currently tapped,” said Lieselore Cyrus, Ambassador of Germany.

“These three micro hydropower plants are not only shining examples of how to use this potential, but also show excellent community development through the utilization of local resources,” she noted when she visited  the first micro hydro power project with regional and federal governmental officials.

“The electricity will enhance public services by powering three elementary secondary schools, three health posts, three training centres for farmers, three Kebele administration offices, several religious institutions and three battery charging stations,” Henning Vogel, Programme Manager of GIZ Energy Coordination Office said.

The project was implemented in partnership with Sidama Mines, Water and Energy Agency, the Sidama Development Association and local communities with the support of the Energy Coordination Office of Deutsche and Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The GIZ Energy Coordination Office (ECO) is trying to increase access to electricity through its Energizing Development Program (EnDev Ethiopia).

GIZ worked with the local administration on this project and to help establish cooperatives that will own and operate the three micro hydropower plants.

“Since 2005 we have successfully cooperated with the Germans. This has led to new sources of energy in  20 countries, benefiting over 7.2 million people. These people have now been provided with electricity or with improved cooking technologies. Access to energy is vital. Many economic activities are simply not possible if energy is unavailable and therefore economic growth is inhibited. We all know that Ethiopia needs economic growth,” Ambassador Hans Blankenberg of the Netherlands said.

Currently the country working on six huge environmentally friendly hydro electric power projects on the banks of major rivers.