Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity and CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power visit UK to exchange best practice with British experts in renewable energy.
His Excellency Seleshi Bekele, Minister for Water, Irrigation and Electricity and Engineer Azeb Asnake, CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power made their first joint work visit to the UK from 31 January to 2 February.
The UK Government’s Department for International Trade organized the visit which highlighted UK expertise in renewable energy, and allowed the Minister and Eng. Azeb to meet key companies and stakeholders in this sector. During the visit, Minister Seleshi signed a Memorandum of Understanding with British firm, Winch Energy, to develop a project to supply off-grid solar energy to 700 villages in rural Ethiopia, 100 villages in the first phase.
Speaking after the signing of the MoU, Tom Wrigley, Director at Winch Energy said: “Today there are at least 50 million people in Ethiopia who remain unserved by the national grid. Through the first phase of our national electrification program with the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity and the Ethiopian Electric Utility, we will provide 100 rural villages with 24/7 access to clean and affordable electricity, wi-fi and drinking water services. Our mission for tomorrow is to bring hope to every Ethiopian rural household, health centre, school and local business, by enabling opportunity, choice and freedom, accompanied by the creation of prosperity.”
During the visit, H.E. Minister Seleshi and Eng. Azeb accompanied by H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework, Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, met with Mr Jeremy Lefroy MP, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Ethiopia as well as other UK government officials and British companies in the renewable energy sector. In their meetings they discussed areas where the UK and Ethiopia can deepen their energy sector investment relationship.
Minister Seleshi and Eng. Azeb also attended a roundtable chaired by the Trade Envoy and hosted by British renewable energy company Globeleq. At the roundtable a number of UK companies presented their areas of expertise, whilst Minister Seleshi also shared Ethiopian experience on the energy sector including the plan to generate 17,000MW of power by 2020. The MoU with Winch energy comes following the Ethiopian government’s call for international power developers to help achieve this target.
Following the meeting, Mr Lefroy commented: “I have been delighted to welcome the Minister and CEO to the UK this week. The Government of Ethiopia has ambitious plans to grow its generation capacity and increase electrification so that the poorest can access energy. The UK is already supporting these initiatives through projects such as Corbetti Geothermal, which has significant development and private finance from the UK, and I hope this visit will encourage more British investment into Ethiopia’s energy sector.”
Commenting on the Visit Minister Seleshi said: “Renewable Energy is at the heart of Ethiopia’s plans to reach middle income status by 2025. Creating millions of new on and off grid connections will ensure better lives for all Ethiopians: improving health and education outcomes and supporting the creation of new businesses and jobs. Productive and sustainable use of Ethiopia’s abundance of clean energy will also allow us to share energy with our neighbours, creating revenue for Ethiopia but also helping bring light and power to millions of people in East Africa. British companies are key partners for us.”
Engineer Azeb on her part also said “It has been very good to see the level of interest from British companies and developers in Ethiopia’s energy sector. There are many challenges to universal access in Ethiopia, but we hope that recent reforms to the market, including new PPP provisions and incentives for innovative renewable energy companies will help us develop a world class grid that is 100% clean, reliable and allows millions more people to access power.’’