Ethiopia starts rationing electricity for homes and industries

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Ethiopia has begun rationing electricity for homes and industries due to a drop in water levels in hydroelectric dams that led to a production deficit.

FILE PHOTO – REUTERS A view of the Gibe III hydroelectric dam during its inauguration in Shoma Yero village in Ethiopia, Dec. 17, 2016.

Ethiopia’s minister for water and electricity, Seleshi Bekele says that the drop in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam led to a deficit of 476 megawatts (MW) which is more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.

The water issues also forced Ethiopia to suspend electricity exports to neighbouring Djibouti and Sudan. The exports earn the country $82 million a year, the minister said.

Minister Bekele also explained that the rationing programme runs until July and domestic consumers will experience blackouts for several hours each day as a result. Cement and steel firms will have to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts.

The minister was quoted saying that the country also suspended exporting electricity to neighbouring Djibouti and Sudan which earn Ethiopia 180 million a year.

Ethiopia’s $4 billion Grand Renaissance Dam project, which has been beset by construction delays is set to start operations in 2020. Once online, the 6,000-megawatt facility will be Africa’s biggest power exporter.

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