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Energy experts believe periodic power cuts across Ethiopia are caused by the termination of a long-term repair and replacement programme by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo).
EEPCo has blamed the blackouts on transmission and distribution line problems, as well as the failure of aged transformers.
During the last few months, power shedding has become frequent in many areas, including the capital, Addis Ababa, while EEPCo has denied that there is a shortage of power being generated.
A high-level EEPCo official said the problem is directly related to the failure of old transformers and transmission and distribution lines.
“The load imbalance that occurs during transmission and distribution is the main problem,” the official told Capital.
EEPCo sources said that the current power cuts are related to the stoppage of formal rehabilitation work on the network 10 years ago.
“The state-owned utility company had been working on replacing and performing long term repairs of electric transmission and distribution lines, but it has chosen to terminate the programme and focus on short-term maintenance a decade ago, which is the main reason for the current and frequent blackouts for long periods,” a source at the corporation told Capital.
EEPCo however denied this and said the Corporation’s rehabilitation programme was continuing, but admitted the programme was not running at the same level as in previous years.
“Currently, the corporation is managing a vast network of distribution lines. Due to that fact, it has become difficult to maintain continuous rehabilitation work like it had been conducting previously,” he explained.
The corporation says full rehabilitation of the network needs more investment and more time.
“EEPCo currently does not have the capacity to manage such a huge endeavour,” the official added, saying EEPCo manages 150,000 km of distribution lines and needs at least six years to carry out the rehabilitation program in full.
People in Addis say power blackouts have increased in recent months. Many people complain that – as well as the frequency – the duration of power cuts has also risen, with outages lasting many hours or even days.
The problem is particularly acute in industrial areas, more so than residential parts of Addis Ababa.
EEPCo says it has formed a special taskforce to resolve the blackout problem as soon as it occurs.
The country is expected to face a shortage of 200MW of electric power during the current fiscal year. EEPCo plans to utilise different energy sources like thermal energy and diesel powered generators to curb the shortage.