By Hiwot Shiferaw.
One of the biggest problems we face in Africa is power shortage. Our need to invest in energy production is indisputable but whether we invest in environmentally sustainable energy or not will insure the future of our continent. Recently Ethiopia is investing in one of the environmentally sustainable energy productions, hydroelectric power plants. Ethiopia has the capacity to produce 45,000 MW powers. The current government has launched a 5 year development goal to salvage 10,000 MW of this capacity. (To give a little perspective of how much power it is, 184 MW power is enough to power 123,200 homes).
Within the last 10 years there were multiple constructions of dams in different regions of Ethiopia. Some examples are Gilgel Gibe I (184 MW), Gilgel Gibe II (420 MW), Tekeze Gimb (300 MW), Beles Gimb (460), and productions of dams that would produce 100 MW,278 MW, 256 MW, 440 MW, and 2000 MW are either under construction or are currently operational.
One of the dams, Gilge Gibe III (1870 MW) following its inauguration this summer (2013) will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa. But I think the biggest investment Ethiopia is making in the production of hydroelectric power is construction of the Hidase Dam (6000 MW), which is projected to be fully operational in 2018. This will make Hidase the 14th largest hydroelectric power producer dam in the world. This dam not only would solve all the power shortages in Ethiopia, it has the capacity to generate revenue in production of electric energy for neighboring countries. The construction cost is projected to be $4.8 billion, and the Ethiopian government intends to fund this by itself, and consequently it has issued bonds targeting Ethiopians at home and abroad.
Of course this raises many questions, how is Ethiopia supposed to afford the use of 15% of GDP for this project? Most of these dams are being built on Nile river tributes, which is causing diplomatic complications with Egypt and North Sudan, so how do we prevent a diplomatic fall out? Even though hydropower is environmentally friendly for the most past, it still has environmental impacts, so how do we minimize that?, So, yes we can lead the way to environmentally sustainable energy, however it is evident that we also need to build a sustainable within our economic, social, and political system so we are not building one bridge while burning another.
Hiwot grew up surrounded by the sound of censers, smell of incense, street markets, tea, smell of freshly roasted coffee, community gatherings and celebrations, where braids told history and outfits echo African self expression, prayer calls from mosques and churches, more languages spoken than one can understand, and soccer games on every street corner, Addis Abeba. Hiwot believes in an economic growth that support this life style, a truly African economy, that is sustainable and nurturing of the peoples culture, traditions, and the environment. Hiwot tweets from @hiwotsh and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.