Ethiopia is the second-largest African country by population with more than 105 Million. Ethiopia is one of the most successful Sub-Saharan African countries in terms of economic growth, the country has been very dynamic during the last decade with a GDP of $80.5 Billion, as it has experienced a steady growth averaging 10% per year. The main drivers of growth are agricultural production and services. In 2017/2018, GDP growth slowed, partly due to civil unrest, political uncertainty and reduced public spending to tackle the growing current account deficit and debt. It went from 10.9% in 2016/2017 to 7.5% in 2017/2018. As the political climate sets in and investments recover, growth should return to 8.5% in 2018/2019. Public investment and consumption will remain key elements of growth. The GDP per capita has doubled in the last 10 years; however, it remains one of the lowest in the world.
Ethiopia generated 4,206 MW the majority of which comes from hydroelectric 89% followed by wind 8% and thermal 3%. Ethiopia is aiming to reach universal access by 2030, as the country is still suffering from inadequate access to electricity as 60% of the population is still on the dark accounting for 12.6 million people. In order to tackle this problem, Ethiopian authorities are seriously considering the nuclear option. Last April, Ethiopia and Russia signed a three-year roadmap setting up the foundation for the construction of a center for nuclear science and technology and a nuclear power plant. The agreement was signed by Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom’s chief executive, and Getahun Mecuria Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology. Rosatom stated that “The roadmap determines specific steps in strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy. The parties have identified joint actions within the framework of a nuclear power plant construction and center for nuclear science construction projects.”
Ethiopia and Russia are in advance negotiation stage concerning the construction of Ethiopia’s first nuclear power plant as
“We have an interest in nuclear power for energy purpose, for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Negotiations are under process, it is not finalised yet, we hope in the coming October, the agreement will be signed during the Russia-Africa summit”
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said this September
The comment strengthens the claim of Ethiopian ambassador to Russia, Alemayehu Tegenu, who back in August stated that negotiations with Rosatom were close to the conclusion on the construction of the Nuclear Power Plant.
Ethiopia also signed a Country Programme Framework with the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 20, 2018, to receive technical support. The framework identifies priority areas where the transfer of nuclear technology and technical cooperation, and resources will be directed to support national development goals. The five-year project with a phase-out date in 2023 will work on nuclear radiation safety and security; food and agriculture; health and nutrition; water resource management; energy planning; industrial applications and human resources capacity building.
The IAEA has been providing assistance to Ethiopia, for instance, they sent an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team to assess the regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety in Ethiopia. IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety, while recognizing the responsibility of each State to ensure safety. Solomon Getachew Mekonnen, who will be attending Africa Nuclear Business Platform in Kenya next October (Director-General of ERPA) stated that “The Ethiopian Radiation Protection Authority (ERPA) values the IRRS mission as a means for strengthening the effectiveness of the regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety…The recommendations and suggestions made by the mission will help the ERPA to improve its functioning”
Reliable energy would help Ethiopia economic growth and boost foreign investment in the country. Nuclear could play a vital role in the development of Ethiopia and would complement the carbon-free energy mix Ethiopia has.
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Author: Ibrahim Ababou (Global Account Manager), Nuclear Business Platform