21 August 2017, Addis Ababa — The Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE) says efforts are underway to benefit more people from diverse energy sources.
The Ministry further indicated that it has succeeded to benefit more than 15,325 communities in biogas, 11,488 in solar home systems and 6,565 towns and villages in electric services throughout the country.
Rural areas in Ethiopia are characterized by either low-density settlement with relatively large distances between households, or villages with fewer inhabitants. This has hindered the use of modern sources of energy.
The natural resource base for the generation of modern sources of energy is plenty according to Bizuneh Tolcha, MoWIE, Public Relation and communication directorate director in his exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald.
He added that 11,488 solar home systems were distributed to the beneficiaries in between GTP-I and II while 4,004 fast tracks were distributed to the regions like Benshangul Gumuz, Gambella, Afar, and Somali.
More than 25,000 households in the rural areas are being benefited in solar home systems with GTP-II. In the meantime it has been distributed to the institutions like schools, local government offices, and health centers more than 28 solar home systems since GTP-II.
As to him planning to build 3,340 biogas plants, the ministry has succeeded to build only 3,065 of them that benefited 15, 325 households that helped to protect 4,948 tons of firewood from deforestation. Farmers were also able to replace 558 tons of urea fertilizer compost.
According to the director, in connection with the accelerated urban growth, the power supply was being collected in the local government offices in the Kebele level where the government is enabling the community to come together in a village.
In the national level, these institutions help to the electrification planned since 1998 and 1,227 rural towns and villages were targeted to benefit them through 709 were benefited and 76 of them are due process to be installed and joined with the power.
Although there were shortages of finance, lack of vehicles, and insufficiency of foreign exchange to benefit these areas – at least two billion birr is needed to the planned electrification program. Hence the government is aware of these problems and striving to solve.
In the previous year, more than 6,565 towns and villages in the rural areas benefited from the electric power throughout the country. 585 towns in this fiscal year will be benefited according to the ministry’s plan. Generally, the electric coverage is 59.5 % accessed in the country.
There is a huge energy resource potential in Ethiopia, which, if utilized, could minimize the present energy crisis prevailing in the country and enhance the process of rural electrification.
The director accentuates that the total exploitable renewable energy that can be derived annually from primary solar radiation, the wind, forest biomass, hydropower, animal waste, and crop residue is very vital and fuelwood and tree residues provide the only means of lighting to the vast majority of the rural population located in areas remote from modern fuel supplies. The efficiency of fuelwood and twigs as a source of light, when compared to other sources of energy, is weak.
The contribution of dung and crop residues for the total energy consumption of rural households is around 18 % of the total rural energy consumption, says Bizuneh. The total dung that can be produced annually from the current livestock and poultry population is about 27,835,022.62 tonnes.
Bizuneh further noted that the government needs to strive as usual to tackle the entire problem among the many, rural households in Ethiopia that have no access to the electrical grid where the prevalent form of lighting is kerosene lamps. These are mostly low-efficiency wick lamps. These lamps emit black carbon that contributes to global warming and causes indoor pollution.
Since women do most of the housework in many rural parts of Ethiopia, they suffer disproportionately from the dirty indoor air. Kerosene costs can also account for a significant portion of household expenses.
This program makes solar lighting systems accessible to rural Ethiopian households through setting up solar centers in villages across the country. The solar centers manage the sale, distribution, installation, and maintenance of the solar systems, as well as offering training and revolving fund to households that cannot afford to pay for the solar home systems on their own. Kerosene lamps are replaced with solar photovoltaic lighting systems.
The program has also established an international solar energy school in Addis Ababa, where solar engineers are being trained, particularly for rural electrification.
Thereby the electrification program, to supply the power resource to the community permanently the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) and the Ethiopian Electric Power are jointly working to solve these problems.
EEU has 413 service centers in the country arranging three or four districts in a cluster together to benefit the community in electrification within its 4,000 satellite centers. In the meantime, this can create job opportunities for unemployed graduates from the TVET, Colleges and Universities and solar technicians that are able to start-up their own small solar businesses in villages.
An accompanying solar competence center in Addis Ababa offers training, product development, testing, and assembly to ensure that know-how will be developed and used in Ethiopia.
*Kassahun Chanie – The Ethiopian Herald