Ethiopia announces major solar program expansion

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance has announced the issue of an international bid for six mega solar projects worth $800 million, with an estimated capacity of around 750 megawatts (MW).

According to Finance Minister Teshome Tafesse, all six projects are now at the request for proposal stage and qualifications. The projects will be deployed across four regions including Afar, Somali, Oromia and Tigray. Under the public-private partnership (PPP) framework, they will be partly funded by the government.

This is the third time Ethiopia goes forward with international tenders for large-scale solar projects. In October 2017, Italian energy company Enel was selected to construct a 100MW power plant in Metehara, central Ethiopia. In the same month, a tender was issued for the construction of two 125MW plants. Both tenders were part of the World Bank’s Scaling Solar initiative, which aims to unlock investment across the continent to deploy large-scale solar energy projects.

Ethiopia is looking to reach 300MW of solar energy by next year. Ethiopia is a leading continent when it comes to the use of renewable energy for power generation, as stated by the World Bank: “It is one of the few countries in the world where the electric grid is nearly 100 percent supplied by renewable sources.” In the same statement, the World Bank announced $375 million in funding to support the country’s electrification program, which aims to drastically increase national access to power, which currently sits at only 34 percent.