ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia has stopped rationing electricity partially as the current rainy season help fills in reservoirs of hydroelectric dams.
Authorities started to ration electricity for domestic and industrial customers on May 19 after a drop in water levels in hydroelectric dams led to a production deficit.
The water levels in major reservoirs are still lower than what it should be, according to the ministry of energy. But they are generating more electric energy to satisfy the needs of at least for domestic customers, minister for water and electricity Seleshi Bekele told reporters on Monday.
“We also advise our customers to use pieces of equipment that may need more electric energy in the night shift in order to save energy,” he added.
The water shortage especially at Gibe III hydroelectric dam, which produces up to 40 percent of electricity going to the national grid, has been a major challenge to electric production.
On average, the reservoirs hydroelectric dams are now filled up to 830 meters. The figure, however, is 3.4 meters lower than what it was during a similar period of last year.
Authorities say the level has to reach at least 390 meters to tackle the current electric production deficit and stop rationing completely.
Until the water level at the reservoirs reaches that level, industrial customers will have to use only 50 percent of their electricity need from the national grid during the daytime. They will get total access to electricity in the night shift, minister Sileshi added.
“This will continue to be the case for the coming 15 days,” he confirmed, expressing his hope that by the second half of July the problem with production deficit could be over with the help of the current rainy season.
Ethiopia already suspended electricity exports to neighboring Djibouti in part and Sudan entirely. Last year, Ethiopia earned 180 million USD from power export.
The 4bln USD dam project on the Nile river, which has been beset by construction delays, is expected to start initial operations in December 2020.
The planned 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.
By Mhret G/Kristos