The 6.6MW Aba Samuel hydro plant in the Awash basin was Ethiopia’s first hydroelectric plant, in 1939. Ethiopia has the second largest hydro power potential in Africa; the country’s gross theoretical hydro potential is estimated to be more than 650TWh/yr and the technically feasible potential is stated to be 260TWh/yr – these figures also include the country of Eritrea, Ethiopia’s small neighbour to the north (International association of electricity generation, transmission and distribution).

Ethiopia’s economically exploitable hydro power potential is around 45,000MW. However, less than 2% of this has been developed. This despite the fact that besides being blessed with vast water resources, Ethiopia also has suitable topography which allows for much of its potential to be devolved at relatively low cost. The current installed capacity of Ethiopia is 635MW, generating approximately 2251GWh/yr.

In the past few years, a number of Ethiopian hydro plants have been rehabilitated, and other projects are either under construction or committed. These upcoming projects amount to a total capacity of approximately 550MW. This is very low compared to the potential of Ethiopia, largely due to the lack of financial resources.

Educational programme

• Addis Ababa University has a department of Civil Engineering under which it has a five-year specialist Masters in hydraulics. It also carries out research in topics such as: Multi-purpose Water Resources Development Project; Management in Ethiopian Construction Industry; Precast Beam-slab System; Improvements of Local Building Materials and Application and Performance Evaluation of Photovoltatic Systems; Renewable Energy Resources; Solar Water Heating and Crop Drying; and Water Turbines. It has also developed in their workshop turbines that are very specific for small and mini hydro projects.

• Ethiopian Rural Energy Development and Promotion Center and Selam Technical and Vocational Training Center (STVC) are two institutions not specifically targeted towards hydro power, but which still include the topic in their training programmes.

• The Arbaminch Water Technology Institute (AWTI) was first established in 1986 with the general objectives of promoting the advancement of water resources development, environmental protection, civil construction industries, and small and large scale agricultural-led industries. It has long and short terms courses in Hydraulics, Water Resources and Small-scale Hydro Power development.

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