Ethiopia’s ruling coalition — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front — has focused on exploiting the country’s immense renewable energy resources, especially its hydro and wind potential.
By Keshav Rastogi (Harvard Political Review)
Ethiopia’s economic success has attracted widespread attention. Its GDP grew by 10.5 percent annually between 2006 and 2016, outpacing East Africa’s 5.4 percent growth rate over the same time period. As extreme poverty declined by nearly 40 percent in the country between 2000 and 2011, Ethiopia is quickly emerging as a model of how rapid development can swiftly improve the quality of life for millions.
This economic boom has also raised living standards by stimulating rapid, dramatic changes in Ethiopia’s power generation sector. In particular, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front — has focused on exploiting the country’s immense renewable energy resources, especially its hydro and wind potential. Its electric grid, with the highest installed capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa at 4.5 GW, is one of few in the world almost entirely based on renewable resources. With its pledge to cut emissions by 64 percent by 2030 following the Paris Climate Summit, Ethiopia has bucked the stereotype of rapidly developing countries opting for cheaper fossil fuels to satisfy growing demand.
Although Ethiopia’s growing electric power industry has generated excitement among both environmentalists and developmental economists, inequalities in Ethiopia’s distribution network persist. Nearly three quarters of the population still lacks access to electricity. While the EPRDF continues to focus on building the country’s renewable energy capacity, it must also prioritize improving electricity access for all Ethiopians.
The Cleanest Grid on Earth?
The expansion of Ethiopia’s electricity sector has been no small feat, and Addis Ababa has invested heavily in its vision of a clean energy future. In 2010, the EPRDF released its first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), which ambitiously dictated a quadrupling of power generating capacity from 2000 MW to 8000 MW within five years. Although this goal was not met, the completion of enormous projects such as the 1870 MW Gibe III Dam has still allowed Ethiopia to double its generation capacity.
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