Solar power has clear advantages in terms of accessibility, costs and reliability compared to traditional means of rural electrification. In the medium to long term, solar power will also be competitive in the grid. As of 2018, Ethiopia had launched the National Electrification Program, which aimed to have 65 percent of the population connected to the electricity grid by 2025.
The national CRGE (Climate Resilient Green Economy) strategy introduced in 2011 highlights solar PV technology as a key technology for rural electrification.
The National Electrification Program (NEP) of 2017, with which 5.7 million households are to be supplied with off-grid electricity, mainly through solar photovoltaics (PV), points in the same direction. A particular focus of the NEP is on the key role of the Ethiopian private sector and the potential of public-private partnerships to achieve these ambitious goals.
The ambition of both the CRGE and the NEP was evident in the first tender for a large solar power plant with 100 MWp. This was won by a private investor. The Scaling Solar program of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) offers support for similar tendering initiatives.
Moges Mekonnen, Ethiopia’s director of communications for power supply, told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is working hard to address the nationwide electricity shortage. For him, the country is also working on generating electricity using solar energy.
He also stated that the country is signing various agreements with foreign investors to develop the sector and that Ethiopia will produce around 500 MW from grid-powered solar energy in the coming years.
Recently, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the future energy company PJSC-Masdar from Abu Dhabi signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop 500 MW PV projects in Ethiopia.
The signing of the MOU was initiated during the state visit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) to the United Arab Emirates. During the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed noted that Ethiopia has been carrying out a wave of reforms since 2018, particularly to strengthen the economy by harnessing private sector investments.
The Prime Minister also reiterated that Ethiopia is a nation with untapped potential in various sectors that can be catalyzed to change people’s lives. The energy sector has been identified as a critical lever.
According to Mekonen, the project will take place in the states of Afar and Somalia. Ethiopia has many renewable resources for wind, sun, geothermal energy and biomass. The country aims to be a power hub and battery for the Horn of Africa.
Apart from the grid projects, various local and foreign investors are developing grid-independent solar PV projects. Afroamk Solar-tech, a limited liability company, is one of those companies producing more than 50 MW per day. Assefa Mengesha is the founder and managing director of Afroamk Solar-Tech PLC.
His passion for the technology he experienced abroad was the starting point for his investment today. Although he was a professional accountant, he had a deep love for technology and he was so drawn to what he observed while in Israel. It is a solar water heater that anyone in the country can build and install at home, which was considered a custom in Israel.
When he tried to bring this technology into the country, there was no trained workforce in the sector, so obstacles started from the beginning. However, Assefa struggled with its ambitions and successfully won the fight. After being well trained in Israel for two years, he laid the foundation stone for a factory here in Ethiopia.
Afroamk Solar-tech, a solar water heater company in Sendafa, Ethiopia, was registered with ETB 16 million at the start of its investment. The total area of the site is now 3,000 square meters, and the factory covers an area of approximately 1,000 square meters, including service offices. It has also created jobs for more than 30 people. For him, all employees have undergone skillful training before they start their work.
So the solar water heater was made by an Ethiopian for Ethiopian and started hanging for sale in various stores. The fact is that the solar panel installed in the machine has a high heat collecting capacity, and the water contained in it passes through a high temperature.
In addition, the machine can be used when hot water is required in showers, private homes, health centers, hotels and industries, as well as boarding houses and apartments. In addition, the solar boiler that is part of the device is installed as a thermostat and control unit for cancer radiation devices in hospitals.
As a result, the device will be installed in large hospitals in different regions, including the Black Lion and St. Paul’s Hospital. With the start of production in Ethiopia, Ethiopia was able to replace the imported product with the same locally produced product.
This solar water heater is available in any number of sizes and can be produced in large quantities for apartments and hotels from 80 liters. The devices are European products and special care is taken to ensure they do not clog, break and deteriorate prematurely.
The products are designed to be used for more than a decade. A guarantee of at least five years is granted for buyers of the products. According to Assefa, the company’s founder and general manager, the products can withstand the power brake and high power consumption, and the company can produce up to 60 products per day.
Assefa explained the importance of the product: if the solar system is equipped with 10,000 households, 50,000 kilowatts per day and more than 1,500 megawatts per month can be saved since every household needs at least five kilowatts of electricity per day. Using solar water heaters can reduce power consumption.
“I have invested in this sector not only to make a profit, but also to reduce the country’s energy consumption. This work should be viewed as a national project. It also reduces the number of transformers that explode due to increased power. Because of the Lack of energy, electricity needs a lot of support, so such projects can greatly reduce the pressure on electricity, “he noted.
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Assefa added that more than 300 solar water heater products have been installed in different regions of the country. According to the latest survey, these machines were able to save more than eight megawatts of electricity per day. As for him, they will improve their accessibility if the government offers them the necessary loan. The factory is in good shape, however, as Dashen Bank was able to visit the factory and arrange to give them a loan given their contribution to the land.
When asked about the competitiveness of their products in the market, Assefa said: His company will start exporting its product to East Africa in the near future as countries open their doors to import. He also stated that they can produce at the required level.
Regarding the investment climate in the country, Assefa said, “Countries attract investors in strong competition. It is impossible to attract investment unless there is a favorable environment for investors to dream. Other countries offer land for free; they also offer loans must be forgiven without interest. Investors must be monitored where they are and what they are doing after obtaining approval. The non-cooperation of banks is a major investment headache. “
If such challenges can be solved by the government, it is therefore possible to manufacture internationally market-competent products in our country, he noted. Due to the fact that solar energy can fill the gap in the country’s electricity supply capacity, he mentioned that the country is ready to support investors who are ready to develop PV projects in Ethiopia.