By Jalene Gemeda (VOA) 10/07/2009 — The power shortage in Ethiopia is affecting many areas of service.Addis Ababa and large urban centers experience blackouts for three or four nights a week.
Mehret Debebe, the CEO of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation says the outages will continue through July. Urban neighborhoods are without water, health facilities are without light and water, factories have shut down, shelves in many stores are empty and a growing number of people are without jobs.
The price of candles, lanterns and kerosene are rising every day, according to some residents. In some communities, residents complain that they are being billed for the electric power they haven’t used. The power outages frequently interrupt classes in schools, colleges and universities in many regions in Ethiopia where students follow lessons on large-screen plasma television monitors and perform research on computers. Evening classes are often plunged into darkness and cancelled.
“Because the country is going through a transforming economic growth, we are experiencing power shortages,” Mehret said. “Industries are booming, trade and the rate we are bringing electricity to rural towns created the shortage.
“We saw a 24 percent increase in demand. The problem persisted because our planned commissioning of two hydro-electric generating projects was postponed.
Minister of Energy and Mines Alemayehu Tegenu says upon completion of projects, Ethiopia not only will cover its electricity demand, but also, plans are already in place to export power to neighboring countries. “We are completing the construction of power cables that connect our hydro-electric power stations to neighboring countries,” he said.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said, “The country is unable to curb the problem of power shortage on time, because our development partners didn’t provide us the support they had promised earlier. The shortage and the untimeliness of rain in Ethiopia is also another major factor that contributed to the problem.”