Ethiopian PM visits Olkaria, promises more energy partnerships

The Ethiopian PM promised more collaboration with Kenya on energy when he visited Olkaria, the largest geothermal power plant in Africa, on Friday.

Hailemariam Desalegn led a delegation of senior officials from his country to the Kenya-Ethiopia Business Forum.

Hailemariam said Kenya and Ethiopia are strategic partners and that his visit will enhance their economic cooperation.

“We are specifically keen on the energy sector. Both governments have expressed the desire to increase collaboration to steer economic development,” the PM said.

He said he was impressed by Kenya’s investment in the plant, noting geothermal energy is clean, green and has minimal effects on the environment.

KenGen chief executive Abert Mugo hailed the PM’s tour noting energy-related projects topped the agenda of Uhuru and the PM’s bilateral talks.

Mugo noted that the plant has elevated Kenya to position eight globally in geothermal production.

The Lapsset project was among topics discussed at State House, President Uhuru Kenyatta saying Kenya will work closely with Ethiopia on it.

In December 2015, at a function in Moyale, Uhuru and Hailemariam witnessed the signing of a Sh20 billion deal to end conflict along their common border and spur development.

The two promised the deal would help create jobs, reduce poverty and foster trade in their restive borderlands.

The main economic focus of the deal was developing the area’s untapped energy and mineral resources and meat and livestock trade to create jobs for youth.

In 2013, Ethiopia embarked on a project to export large amounts of clean power across East Africa.

With an estimated potential capacity of 45,000 megawatts (MW) from hydro alone, the country is at the centre of an emerging electricity network across the region, driven largely by renewable energy.

The Eastern Africa Power Pool aims to connect the power grids of at least nine countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Djibouti. It may also be extended to northern and southern Africa.

Also in the pipeline is the 500-kv transmission line connecting the Kenyan and Ethiopian grids, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2016 at a cost of up to $1.26 billion.

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It would make Kenya, which has the region’s largest industrial base, the largest buyer of Ethiopian power at an eventual 400 MW, and could allow Ethiopia to export up to 1,600 MW to countries further afield.


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