What Strained Relations? Tanzania Is Fourth African Country To Buy Electricity From Ethiopia

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Africa’s largest dam — the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam — has strained relations between Ethiopia and some of its neighbors, but that’s all history now, Ethiopia says.

Tanzania is set to sign an electricity power export deal with Ethiopia, making it the fourth African country to do so, Sudan Tribune reported.

Ethiopia’s national power company on Saturday announced that Tanzania has agreed to purchase 400 megawatts of Ethiopia’s hydro-power processed electricity.

The agreement between the two countries will be finalized in the coming weeks, said Azeb Asnake, CEO of Ethiopia Electric Power.

The new power export deal is expected to foster economic integration and strengthen multilateral ties between the two countries, Azeb said.

The power transaction is also expected to create more economic integration with Kenya, which sits between Ethiopia and Tanzania, the CEO told the state run Ethiopian News Agency.

“When Tanzania gets electric power from Ethiopia, it has to pass through Kenya,” she said. “When two countries are integrated economically, then they have to watch out for their political relationship as well.”

Ethiopia is investing billions of dollars to build several hydro-electric power plants including what will be Africa’s largest dam — the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD).

GERD is being built along the Nile River in the Benshangul Gumz region near the Sudanese border. It is more than 50-percent complete and is expected to have power generation capacity of 8,000 megawatts.

The dam has strained relations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

However the three countries have moved to a new cooperative phase in economic, political, and security-related fields, Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said on Saturday, according to Daily News Egypt.

For example, an Egyptian-Sudanese summit is scheduled in Cairo in October. All three heads of state are expected to announce a new development fund between the three countries.

The three countries agreed in March 2015 on the construction of the dam. Technical studies are underway to guarantee each country gets its share of water, Daily News Egypt reported. However the dam may be completed before the technical studies are completed in a year’s time.

The massive dam project will transform Ethiopia to a leading renewable energy power exporter in the East African region, the Ethiopian government says.

Ethiopia hopes to be a middle-income nation by 2025. It has been exporting electricity to neighboring countries including Djibouti and Sudan, and a transmission line to Kenya is under construction, Ethiopian Herald reported.

Ethiopia plans to export power to seven neighboring countries after the completion of the mega dam project including Burundi and Rwanda. It also has plans to link its grid with South Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.

Ethiopia’s potential power production capacity from hydro, geothermal, wind and solar energy is over 60,000 megawatts — about 40 percent of Africa’s current installed capacity of 147,000 megawatts.

South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, exported 13,465 gigawatts of power during 2015-2016, according to Eskom’s 2016 integrated annual report, Independent Online reported.

A gigwatt is energy equal to 1,ooo megawatts, according to Electronics Stack Exchange.