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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Éthiopie : les énergies vertes pour modèle ?

by Vincent Defait

Ethiopia: Green Energy Has a Model?

Translated Saturday 7 December 2013, by Catherine Pageault

The country has inaugurated the biggest wind farm in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Addis Ababa, correspondence . Gébrékiros Meressa, forty-six years old, walks away from the group to tell about all the good he thinks about the wind turbine implanted on the ridge not far from his village. “We had to yield land, but with the compensations, some have even been able to buy a truck…” In the distance, clouds of dust rise from the trail: the convoy of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. The inauguration of the Ashegoda wind farm, the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa – 120 megawatts of power for 84 wind turbines spread over 100 square kilometers – and it is impending. The park is situated 800 km away from the capital Addis Ababa, which now propels Ethiopia to the rank of the third wind turbine energy producer on the continent, behind Egypt and Morocco.

The day before, in the brand new control station, Ludovic Dehondt was juggling with superlatives. “For the wind energy sector, it is a wonderful site”, explained the engineer from the French company Vergnet, which landed the tender in the beginning of 2009. “With 3 300 hours of full power wind per year (compared to France’s 2000 hours – editor’s note), we can produce enough electricity for 3 million Ethiopians”, on a population of 85 million people.

In the whirlwind of the inauguration, the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, confirmed the course of his government: “This project is only the beginning. We wish to industrialize the country and to develop modern agriculture. For this, energy is a basic necessity.” Hence, a mega dam, which is as controversial as it is potentially productive (6000 MW), is under construction on the Nile. Even better, an Icelandic geothermal company will produce from now until 2021, a 1000 MW in the Northeast of the country. And so on. A project that could have a model value, since the African continent has no shortage of sun, of wind or geothermal resources. Nevertheless, suffers from a lack of investments and political will.

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