Ethiopia joins Zimbabwe to ration electricity for homes and industries
London, May 18, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Ethiopia has started to ration electricity for domestic and industrial customers after a drop in water levels in hydroelectric dams led to a production deficit, the minister for water and electricity.
Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Minister Seleshi Bekele, said that the drop in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam had led to a deficit of 476 megawatts which is more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.
Ethiopia has also suspended electricity exports to neighbouring Djibouti and Sudan, which earns the country $180 million a year, the minister added.
Under the rationing programme, which runs until July, domestic consumers will face blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms will have to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts, Seleshi said
Ethiopia’s $4bn dam project on the Nile river, which has been beset by construction delays and criticism from Egypt, is expected to start initial operations in December 2020.
The project has caused problems with Egypt, which fears the dam will restrict Nile river waters coming down from Ethiopia’s highlands through the deserts of Sudan to the Egyptian fields and reservoirs.
The planned 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centre piece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.
Ethiopia is the second African country to ration power supply after Zimbabwe whose state-owned power utility warned that it could ration electricity supplies as low water levels reduced output from its biggest hydro-electric plant.
The country’s ageing coal-fired generators were shuttered or running at reduced capacity.
Under the arrangement, power cuts would hit the mining sector, which contributes more than two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s export earnings, adding to difficulties in a country already battling with a lack of foreign exchange, soaring prices and shortages of fuel, food and medicine.
Zimbabwe experienced its worst power shortages in 2016 following a devastating drought. This week, it was producing only 915MW against a peak demand of 2100MW. Agency