– British companies eye industrial parks
The governments of Ethiopia and the UK on Wednesday signed an agreement to cooperate in developing off-grid renewable energy sources. According to the deal, the UK government agreed to support Ethiopia’s endeavor to harness renewable energy sources while British companies would be able to invest in off-grid renewable energy resources.
Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Sileshi Bekele (PhD) and British Ambassador to Ethiopia Susanna Moorehead (PhD) signed the agreement.
Sileshi said the deal would help 35 million Ethiopians have access to the national grid. According to him, seven million households are currently off-grid. “Through this agreement, we can move forward to reach the most distant and inaccessible locales. I am very pleased that DFID has coordinated the energy pact, which will help not only our Growth and Transformation Plan but also the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the seventh one of which looks at renewable energy generation, energy access and efficiency. These can be very well tackled through this kind of energy deal.”
Sileshi told The Reporter that the energy pact is intended to come up with off-grid solutions towards providing access to energy, especially for rural Ethiopia. It also calls for participation by the private sector in the generation and distribution of energy with a view to reaching the farthest corners of the country. “It also boosts the capacity of various sectoral institutions to deliver on these off-grid solutions. It hopefully will bring resources in, particularly foreign capital that could be made available towards enhancing energy development and accessibility. It has multiple components in that it is designed to mobilise financial resources while also contributing to transfer of know-how and technology from the UK and other parts of the world,” he added.
Ambassador Susanna Moorehead, on her part, said the deal would highly benefit segments of the population that do not have access to energy sources. She noted that the energy pact underpins Ethiopia’s ambitious plan to industrialization and becoming a middle-income country. “This compact will encourage British investors to come with state-of-the-art technology for off-grid energy supply to remote areas. We have a long track record in this sector,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Moorehead disclosed that British companies have shown a keen interest in investing in the new industrial parks that are being developed by the Ethiopian government. “From the discussion I had with British companies, they indicated that they are keen to come and have a look at your industrialization strategy and industrial parks to see how they can make investments that benefit the poor of Ethiopia, and promote Ethiopia’s industrialization and also British interests here,” she said.
The ambassador further noted that the pact would enable them to bring British investment and technology that would help Ethiopia achieve its long-term development goals. “It is an agreement to work together to have a whole range of investments. The next step will be to talk to British companies to have a look at the challenges. It will also be to bring a British business delegation who have expertise in off-grid technology.”
The minister and the ambassador also discussed potential investment opportunities that are available in the industrial parks.
By Kaleyesus Bekele