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  • Ethiopia Hit by Power Shortages, Reintroduces Rationing

    Ethiopia has begun electric power rationing on an hourly basis after its power generating dams could not fill sufficient water, according to the Ethiopian government.

    The country has been going through severe power shortages for several months now, affecting factories, businesses, hotels, banks, and internet and communications users.

    Briefing journalists on Friday,Minister of Water, Irrigation, Dr Engineer Seleshi Bekele said lack of sufficient water at the dams resulted in 460 MW power deficit which in turn forced the governmnt to introduce power rationing until July 7, 2019,

    Accordingly, domestic customers have been divided into three catagories and each catagory will get electric power service in shifts for the duration of five hours.

    "In order to fill the supply gap, the country also suspended power sale to the Sudan while reducing supply to Djibouti by half, he said.

    Due to the power cuts, the country would lose more than $100 million, which otherwise could be earned from power sale to its neighbors.

    Food processing, pharmaceutical, export oriented companies as well as other social service delivering institutions will, however, be exempted from the power cuts.

    Insufficient rain fall and flood from the country's highlands where rainfall occurs twice in a year have downsized the volume of water entering into the dams.

    Since May 8, 2019, domestic consumers have been facing blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms as well as businesses all over the country have been operating for fewer hours due to the power cuts.

    According to the minister, the dams are expected to fill enough water during the coming main rainy season and produce at their full capacity.

    Currently Ethiopia gets 90% its total electricity from hydropower generating plants with a total of installed capacity of almost 3,815 megawatts.

    One of the biggest hydropower projects the country has been building is the Great Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD). The project, the largest of its kind in Africa, is behind schedule but 68% complete, according to government reports.

    Upon completion, GERD, Africa's biggest hydro electric dam project, is set to begin generating power next year and will have more than 6000 MW generating capacity when completed after four years, if the progress continues at the current pace as the government is claiming.

    Athough the country had its sights on power exports to neighboring countries for long, Ethiopia never had a reliable power supply to its own citizens. Even in good times, it common for one area or the other to go into blackouts lasting hours, sometimes days.

    The reason is not just a matter of supply and demand, but also of poor grid infrastructure, which, by world standards, is archaic and lacking basic maintenance.

    The country is littered with power generators, ready to spring up when local power fails. In addition to the downtime and loss of productivity, these are added expenses that large and small businesses in Ethiopia must incur, one of several factors that limit their competitiveness.

    Power rationing is not new to Ethiopia. It happened before when there was severe power shortage three years ago before Ghibe II hydro power became operational with power capacity of 1800 MW.



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  • Addis to host digital disruption in agriculture forum

    Addis Ababa is set to host Digital Disruption in Agriculture Forum that aims to identify digital tool and service providers from Africa and beyond to employ proven practices in Ethiopia.

    Organized by the World Bank the two-days forum will be held at the Hyatt Regency in from May 15-16, 2019. Among the companies featured at the event are Digital Green, ATA, Farm Radio, Apposit, Moss ICT, Tulaa, Kifiya, Sunculture, Twiga Foods, Stella Apps, aWhere and Xarvio. “Digital technologies can tackle Africa’s food challenges, such as low productivity, high transaction costs, limited use of modern inputs and minimal commercialization,” the organizers said.

    The World Bank also stated that in other parts of the world, digital tools have been proven to be effective, but agricultural technology pioneers in Africa face numerous roadblocks to scaling up their products and services due to the dominance of smallholder farming.

    “This is particularly evident in Ethiopia, where farming practices have remained unchanged for centuries and where enormous potential exists for technological disruption in the agricultural sector. The World Bank Group is exploring how to leverage digital technologies to improve agricultural practices and food security in Ethiopia. This has the potential to impact the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers,” the World Bank said.

    It is indicated that the forum will be conducted in a variety of interactive formats, including panels, keynote speeches, lightning talks, and breakout groups. An innovation marketplace allows selected companies to display their products and services during breaktimes, according to the World Bank.

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