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Ethiopia lifts electricity rationing programme after water levels rise1 minute read

Under the rationing programme announced in May, domestic consumers faced blackouts for several hours each day

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Ethiopia lifts electricity rationing programme after water levels rise
(File photo)

Ethiopia’s minister for water and electricity, Seleshi Bekele on Monday, lifted measures rationing electricity for homes and companies after a rise in water levels at hydroelectric dams.

According to Bekele, the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam.

Seleshi had said in May when announcing the rationing, that the drop in water levels at Gibe 3 dam had led to a deficit of 476 megawatts, more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.

Companies will be allowed 50% of their power needs for the next 15 days during the day and 100% of needs from 11pm to 5am as part of the reduced load shedding programme, he said.

Load shedding temporarily reduces supply of power to an area of the grid when demand exceeds its supply.

Power to the grid was also expected to increase when electricity from another dam, the Genale Dawa 3, is inaugurated next month. The dam has an installed capacity of 254 MW.

Under the rationing programme announced in May, domestic consumers faced blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms had to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts.

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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Zambia’s Zesco, Chinese firm enter $548 man deal

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Zesco Limited, Zambia’s state-owned electricity company, has signed contracts worth $548 million with Power China to develop three solar power plants that will add 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.

The three contracts are a step towards diversifying renewable energy for the country, which relies heavily on hydropower and has faced electricity shortages partly due to droughts.

“The three-grid solar PV projects will have a capacity of 200 MW each,” Zesco Managing Director, Victor Mundende said in the statement, adding that the power plants will boost access to electricity and enhance industrial development. A generating date is yet to be disclosed.

Zambia’s power supply deficit has grown by nearly 20% since September, State power utility, Zesco announced in March, despite hefty price hikes and the government’s fast-tracking of support for green energy projects. 

Zesco’s Director of Corporate Services Patrick Mwila said in March the electricity deficit had grown to 810 megawatts (MW) from a 690 MW gap in September last year. E

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Algeria to invest $3 billion in solar power, free up gas export

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The Coronavirus pandemic is proving to be the motivator for more economic diversification. An example of this, is Algeria’s plan to invest further in renewable energy and generate more electricity. The country intends to invest at least $3 billion dollars in this endeavor.

These new photovoltaic solar plants will generate a combined production capacity of 4000 mega watts (MW). The electricity will be consumed locally and excesses sold. The move will enable more gas to be sold externally.

Recently, Algeria lost its main gas supply destination due to cheaper alternatives with more supplies.

Currently, gas is used in generating about 98% of total electricity production in Algeria. But recent development has been encouraging Algiers to increase its exports of gas and crude oil, which are the main sources of Algeria’s revenue. Solar generated electricity makes up the remaining 2%.

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Djerrad’s office announced the development on its website following a meeting of the government.

“In addition to meeting national demand for energy and preserving our fossil resources, this project will allow us to position ourselves on the international market,” it said in a statement.

It gave no details on where the electricity might be sold abroad or how much the proposed plants would contribute to domestic supply.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent global movement restriction has influenced the drastic drop in crude oil and gas sales affecting countries like Algeria. The past two weeks has seen a gradual rise in price but Algeria like many other OPEC members have announced plans to seek foreign loans in 2020 for the first time in years to fund what they called “strategic projects”.

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