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Ethiopia Starts Generating Electricity from Africa’s Largest Hydropower Project 

By Okot Njoroge, in Nairobi

Ethiopia has commenced electricity generation from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

GERD is Africa’s largest hydropower project, with 6,000MW capacity, more than double Ethiopia’s current generating capacity, and will rank among the world’s 10 biggest hydropower plants.

The plant, sited on the Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuzregion of western Ethiopia, started generating 375 megawatts of electricity from one of its turbines on February 20, 2022.

Estimated to cost anything from $4Billion to $6.4Billion at full completion, it is largely financed by government bonds. 

Ethiopia’s first phase filling of the dam was in July 2020, during which 4.9Billion cubic metres of water was collected. The second phase, in 2021, raised the volume to 18.4Billion cubic metres of water. The 74Billion cubic metre-capacity dam is expected to take five to seven years to fill.

An influential, strident critic of the project is Egypt, which considers GERD as a significant threat to its water supply. Egypt lies downstream of the Nile and has called on international organizations, including the United Nations, to stop Ethiopia from filling the dam while the three countries most affected: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, agree on how to fill it. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has frequently declared that his country’s national security is a red line and stressed the need to reach a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

Nigerian Grid Stability Improves, But Power Generation Down, in 2Q 2021

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) reports “a sustained improvement in grid stability during the second quarter of 2021” in its latest quarterly report.

“This was a result as there was only a single incidence of Total Collapse (i.e. total blackout nationwide)”, the agency says.

There was also no partial collapse (failure of a section of the national grid) during the quarter under review, NERC notes.

Nigeria’s electricity transmission grid is one of the weakest in the country’s electricity value chain. Power producers often lament the fact that their gross output can hardly be wheeled to the distribution companies, because of the persistent failure of the grid.

“To sustain the improvement in the grid stability in subsequent quarters, the Commission has continued to enforce and monitor the compliance to its directive”, NERC declared in the report.

Meanwhile, the improvement in transmission was not complemented by the quality of generation of electrical power in the period under review. During the second quarter 2021, Nigeria’s average of daily available generation capacity was 5,472.10 MW, implying a decline of 8.1% compared to 5,956.23 MW recorded in the preceding quarter. However, the total electrical energy generated was 9,187,337 MWh – 3.27% less than the 9,498,786 MWh generated during the preceding quarter. A total of 8,909,910 MWh (96.98% of total generation) was delivered to the grid during the second quarter 2021, implying that the generation stations used 3.02% of their generation. Meanwhile, station’s own-use is expected to be within 2% in line with the MYTO assumptions. Finally, due to energy export, energy sold on bilateral contracts and transmission losses, only 7,332,949.05GWh was delivered to the Discos during the quarter.

It’s Certain: A 450MW Gasfired Power Plant Will be Built in Temane, Mozambique

UK based power developer Globeleq has announced the Final Investment Decision on the proposed 450 MW gas-fired power plant to be sited in gas rich Temane, in Mozambique’s Inhabane district.

The plant, costing $652.3Million and scheduled for completion in 2024, will be debt financed by IFC, together with its Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund ($253.5Million), US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) (approximately providing $191.5Million) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OPEC Fund) ($50Million). The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has provided up to $251.3Million in political risk insurance to the private sector equity investors.

Located at Temane in Inhambane Province, the Central Termica de Temane (CTT) power project will supply power to the power utility Electricidade de Moçambique, E.P. (EDM) under a 25-year tolling agreement. CTT is expected to provide electricity to meet the demand of 1.5Million households and will contribute about 14% of the electricity supply capacity available to meet demand in Mozambique.

Full Value Chain

“CTT also anchors a new 563 km high-voltage transmission line (the Temane Transmission Project (TTP)) and secures the first phase of the interconnection of the southern grid to the central and northern grids of Mozambique”, Globeleq says in the release. “This will establish a corridor of electrification and ensure a more stable and secure grid and enable the connection of future renewable generation projects. The TTP is owned by EDM and will be funded using grant and concessional finance provided by the World Bank, Africa Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, OPEC Fund and the Norwegian Government. Together, the entire value chain (gas development, gas fired power plant and transmission infrastructure) will see an investment of more than $2Billion”.

The British developer says the project “is aligned with the Paris Agreement and will support Mozambique’s longer-term sustainable energy transition to net-zero by 2050. CTT’s flexible technical and commercial configuration allows for a variable supply of baseload and dispatchable power and will deliver complementary power so that Mozambique can maximise renewable energy generation projects on its grid and pursue lower carbon energy development. In addition, the Siemens SGT-800 turbines chosen for the plant can be upgraded to handle high hydrogen content, further reducing the plant’s carbon impact”.

Linda Munyengeterwa, IFC’s Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure, Middle East & Africa, commented: “This is our third power investment in Mozambique, and we remain committed to supporting the sustainable development of the country’s electricity sector”, said

The project will be built by the Spanish contractor TSK, utilising Siemen’s gas turbine technology. “TSK has extensive experience in designing and constructing similarly sized combined-cycle power plants and will leverage their in-country construction experience during the 34-month construction period”, Globeleq explains. “CTT is expected to generate around 830 jobs during construction and 90 permanent jobs during operations. This excludes engineering and other work performed off-site. Mozambicans will be prioritized for jobs during both construction and operations. It is estimated that the project will support the creation of 14,000 indirect jobs and livelihoods when it becomes operational in 2024”.

CTT is expected to provide first power in 2024


Cairo, Riyadh Sign $1.8Billion Power Connection Deals

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have finally inked a long-awaited agreement to connect the electricity grids of the two countries.

The $1.8Billion 500kV high voltage direct current HVDC line will have a capacity of 3GW and is planned for completion by 2025.

It will link a converter station at Badr, northeast of Cairo with ones at Tabuk and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The project will involve the construction of approximately 1,350 kilometres of overhead transmission cables and 22 kilometres of subsea cables in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Japan’s Hitachi ABB Power Grids will partner private Egyptian construction firm Orascom on the Egyptian side and Saudi Services for Electro-Mechanic (SSEM) on the Saudi side.

Tlou Energy Talks Up Small Power Project, with a Trickle of Gas as Feedstock

By Sully Manope, in Windhoek

Tlou Energy, the AIM listed energy company focused on Botswana, is talking up its planned gas to power project, expected to deliver 10MW at peak.

Botswana has a severe energy deficit. The country produces less than 500MW but peak demand is 702MW, according to Government’s statistics.

Going by the frequency with which Tlou Energy publishes media updates on its “gas to power” project, it is easy to assume that the facility, when commissioned, will make a dent on Botswana’s power supply. But 10MW is minuscule, even by the humble scale of Botswana’s power consumption.

What’s more, Tlou Energy reports “sustained natural gas flows” from Lesedi wells Mining Licence, located in a Coal Bed Methane asset, but it doesn’t report what volume the so-called ‘sustained natural gas flows’ is delivering. It so happens that Proven + Possible (2P) gas reserves in the licence is all of 41Billion cubic feet, according to the company’s published Independent Gas Reserves Certification.

Tlou  Energy says that the  licence is valid until 2042  and that it already secured Environmental approval for development. Initial Power Purchase Agreement is negotiated with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Generation Licence is approved by Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA).

It plans to construct 66kV Transmission Lines to connect the Lesedi project to the grid (~100 Km), install generation assets, initially up to 2 MW of power.

It has to  drill additional gas wells to supply up to 10 MW of power and  add additional generators (up to 10 MW).

“Once the initial 10MW is in place the company plans further expansion”

Proposed 300MW Coal Power Plant in Mozambique Moves to Financial Close

South African owned, London listed, Ncondezi Energy Ltd expects to start construction of a 300MW Coal-Fired Plant in Mozambique by the third quarter of 2022.

Financial Close for the project, located in the coal-rich Tete District in the north of the country, is targeted for H1 2022, with 36 months planned construction, meaning that the plant should be up and running by mid-2025.

The company is currently negotiating to exclusively supply power to Electricity of Mozambique (EDM), the Mozambican power utility. But it is looking, down the road, at the regional transmission hub to the country’s Northern Grid, with direct connections into South Africa and Zimbabwe and potential expansion plans into Malawi and Zambia, for which line route optimization is currently underway.

The contract for Engineering, Procurement, and Construction(EPC) of the power plant was signed with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) at a virtual signing ceremony on September 9, 2021. The EPC contract confirms CMEC as the main contractor to provide design, engineering, manufacturing, procurement, construction, erection, installation, and commissioning of the Ncondezi 2x150MW coal-fired power station on an EPC turnkey basis. The contract is valid for three years and subject to standard conditions being met before construction can start, including the achievement of Financing Close.

The next phases of the project milestones are to finalize project tariff, finalize Power Purchase Agreement with EDM, finalize Power Concession Agreement with Mozambique Government, and then move to Financing Close.

The Chinese are heavily committed to this. As far back as July 2019, the project promoter had signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with CMEC as EPC and O&M Contractor and the American giant General Electric (GE) as the main technology provider for co-development, construction, and operation.

In December 2019, Ncondezi Ltd received indicative debt terms from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). In January 2020, it received a Letter of Interest from China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure) and in Aug 2020, received Shareholders Agreement Term sheet confirming CMEC’s intention as lead investor for 60% of the equity investment at financial close.

“COVID-19 lockdowns and increasing scrutiny on the rationale for new fossil fuel power generation have presented added challenges this year, however, the company believes that the project is sufficiently advanced and has the necessary support to effectively navigate them and unlock value through the delivery of key milestones before year-end,” says Hanno Pengilly, Ncondezi’s Chief Executive Officer.

Tanzania’s 2,115MW Dam to Start Electricity Production Mid 2022

The Tanzanian government plans to start operating the Julius Nyerere hydroelectric dam, in June 2022, when the first of nine turbines go into operation.  

Work is 63% complete on the facility, which will feed 2,115 MW, at peak, into Tanzania’s national power grid.

Egyptian companies, Elsewedy Electric and Arab Construction, the two EPC contractors, have almost completed the dam construction and are now focused on the hydroelectric plant, which will be located at the foot of the dam. Each of the proposed nine vertical Francis turbines units will be capable of delivering 235 MW of power, for a total capacity of 2,115 MW.

The dam will be filled in November 2021, to go by the Tanzanian government’s timetable. By June 2022, the first turbine will start supplying electricity to the Tanzanian Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) grid. 

Work is currently focused on the installation of the draft tubes at the base of the ninth turbine, which will evacuate water from the electricity generators.

The plant could be fully operational by 2027. 

The Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Dam will be one of the largest hydroelectric dams on the African continent, behind the 6,450 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) and the 2,400 MW Batoka Gorge Dam on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Standing 134m high and capable of holding 32.3 billion m3 of water, with a reservoir covering an area of 1,350km². The Julius Nyerere dam is built on the Rufiji River and is one of the most contested projects because of its environmental impact, as it is located in the heart of the Selous National Park. The Tanzanian government has had to cut down 2.6Million trees before work begins in June 2019.

Ethiopia Completes Second Filling of Massive Hydropower Dam

Ethiopia finished the second phase of filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reservoir on July 16, 2021, the country’s water minister has said.

Seleshi Bekele adds that “extreme rainfall this season in the Nile Basin” has aided a rapid filling of the dam.

GERD is Africa’s largest hydropower project, with a 6,000MW capacity.

Ethiopia’s first phase filling of the dam was in July 2020, during which 4.9Billion cubic metres of water was collected. The second phase was expected to be much higher, raising the volume to 18.4Billion cubic metres of water, though Mr. Bekele hasn’t announced the figures in the latest filling. The 74Billion cubic metre-capacity dam is expected to take five to seven years to fill.

An influential, strident critic of the project is Egypt, which considers GERD as a significant threat to its water supply. Egypt lies downstream of the Nile and has called on international organizations, including the United Nations, to stop Ethiopia from filling the dam while the three countries most affected: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, agree on how to fill it. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has frequently declared that his country’s national security is a red line and stressed the need to reach a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

Egypt and Sudan had hoped to persuade global powers to take a more aggressive position towards Ethiopia and pressure it to return to the negotiating table with different mediators, but the United Nations Security Council declined to condemn Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the dam and called on all three countries to continue the current African Union-led process.

Nigerians Spend Huge Importing Electric Generators Bad for the Environment

By Bunmi Aduloju, NAREP Fellow

The penurious power supply in the country has paved way for a thriving electric generator market. Many Nigerians self-generate power using fossil fuel-powered generators that harm the environment.

“I opened one cartoon of mackerel fish costing about ₦28,000 a week ago. And I have not finished selling it. It is part of it that got spoilt. I cannot sell them to my customers because they will complain. Still, I have to pay ₦4000 at the end of the month for electricity.”

That was Faith Okorochukwu, fondly called Mama Kewe, a retailer of frozen poultry products and seafood for nine years, lamenting how erratic electricity supply has been affecting her sales. Mama Kewe plies her trade at the sprawling Alakija Market, one of the smallest conglomerations of shops on the Lagos -Badagry Expressway in the west of Lagos, Nigeria’s financial hub.

“For some days in the previous week, there was no power supply,” she added. “In fact, throughout yesterday, there was no power supply. I had to give my fishes out at a cheaper price to a woman who fries them at the junction. Still, some of my fishes went rotten.”

Now, imagine that when Mama Kewe bought a bigger 9KVA petrol generator, she was still concerned about not causing noise and environment pollution to her fellow traders.

“I cannot place my new generator in front of my shop because it is too large for the small space and then again, because the shops are packed, I don’t want to disturb my neighbours with the noise and the smoke,” she said pointing to the tiny walkway in the anterior of her shop.

So, she further piles up losses.

Unlike Mama Kewe, ‘Engineer’ John Ukeagu’s computer and printing business centre runs fully on generator. Situated on the first floor of a building at the same Alakija complex, his generator sits at the entrance of his shop. This usage comes at a high financial cost.

“I spend about 9000 naira every week on fuelling my generator and I still pay the authorities for the power supplied,” he said. “Today, I opened business around 8am and since then, I have been using my genset until about a few minutes ago (around 2pm), when power was restored”.

When asked which served his energy needs better between his generator and the national grid, he said, “Without my genset, I would not have any business here.”

The experiences of Mama Kewe and Ukeagu are not isolated; they are what small and medium scale entrepreneurs contend with to serve in an epilepsy inflicted electricity supply society.

According to the PWC MSMEs 2020 Survey, Nigeria’s MSMEs account for 96% of the total number of businesses in the country and contribute about 50% to the national GDP.

However, a research conducted by the Centre for Democracy and Development and SOAS, University of London, estimates that SMEs have about 1 to 5 hours of power supply from the national grid and so, have to self-generate.

A Fortune for Electric Generators

Nigeria is among the top six countries generating energy with back-up generators, together with India, Iraq, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Bangladesh, according to the International Finance Corporation, (IFC) and the collective capacity of small gasoline generators alone is eight times more than Nigeria’s entire national grid, according to a report by Dalberg, a non-profit R&D institute.

The same report estimated that Nigerians spend $12 billion every year on buying and operating small generators, with about 22M homes and small businesses relying on small gasoline generators.

With these figures, it is not startling to find the huge amount of money spent on importation.

From 2015 till 2019, Nigerians expended $499.38 million on importing electric generators, according to the UN Comtrade, a repository of official international trade statistics. In 2018 alone, $207.99 million was spent to import these generators, accounting for the highest and $27. 17 million in 2016, accounting for the lowest from 2015 till 2019.

Michael Ogunremi, an economist with Chapel Hill Denham, an independent investment banking and management firm, explained the financial implications of using electric generators.

“We have had frequent episodes of fuel scarcity and even, a few months ago, the government was contemplating hiking the price of fuel. There was a whole lot of noise about that. When you factor that into consideration and consider the number of people that use generators, you will be surprised at the cost Nigerians pay for energy,” he asserted.

He further explained that Nigeria’s case is peculiar because of the population figure of more than 200 million people and Nigeria’s inability to meet the energy needs has led to dependence on the use of electric generators.


Harmful Fossil Fuels Powered Generators

A World Bank study showed that the top three sources of PM2.5 in Lagos are road transport, industrial emissions and generators. Furthermore, it stated that, “In Lagos alone, about half of the city’s total energy demand is met by generators, the third source of PM 2.5.” Called particulate matter, PM2.5 at high level brings concern for people’s health.

Emmanuel Omolaja, a clean energy advocate and CEO, Renerworld Global Limited, outlined the composition of generator fumes.

“What generators produce as exhaust mostly comprises carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, zinc and other chemicals. It is very evident that some of these chemicals are very harmful to human health and to the environment, he delineated.

“Based on the chemical composition of carbon dioxide particles, when it is emitted into the atmosphere, it traps heat,” he noted.

The pledge by Nigeria’s government to cut down emission by 20% in 2030 will be aided by the phasing out of these generators, a Dalberg report outlined.

“Replacing gasoline generators presents a big opportunity as they will produce 22% of targeted reductions from the energy sector in 2030, it stated.

Ban on “I better Pass My Neighbour” Generators

In 2020, a bill sponsored by Senator Bima Muhammadu Enagi to ban the use and importation of generating sets was received with hostility by Nigerians due to the deplorable power supply prevailing in the nation, according to a PM report.

But before then, there had been a ban on small generators.

In November 2015, the importation of small generators popularly known as “I better pass my neighbour” was banned because of its deteriorating environmental effects and health risk.

However, a young business owner, who preferred anonymity at the Trade Fair Market, Ojo, claimed that he was a bulk importer of small generators.

“We bring in two containers of tiger generators every month, he said.

Similarly, two other contacts from Alaba Suru and Alaba International mentioned that they had a large stock of these generators and they could sell in bulk to anyone willing to buy them.

It is going to be very difficult to track the import on these generators, explained Michael Omolaja, because import comes through the informal sector.

He further explained that, “Generators importation would most likely pass through the port. Even if the port is supposed to be more secure than the land borders, we still don’t have efficient control”

However, Mrs Ugo Madubuike, General Manager, Monitoring and Regulatory Services, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), replying via email to the claims by these generator importers, stated that it is not the responsibility of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to comment on these claims.

Can Solar Replace Electric Generators?

These mini generators cost about 40,000 naira. However, its sustainability is questionable.

Emmanuel Omolaja, elucidated the long-term viability of solar and electric generators.

“The payback period of solar is usually between one to three years. If an equivalent amount of money is spent on generators, you would have gotten the money you spent on solar back in sixteen months. And so, whatever your system is generating for the next thirty years or thereabout is just free power,” he explained.

But the upfront cost of solar alternatives is way higher than that of electric generators.

According to a Dalberg report, “Solar alternatives to gasoline generators exist in Nigeria, but are currently 15-20x more expensive. A typical 1.5 kVA gasoline generator costs $150, while a 1.5 kVA solar system costs $2,500.”

Emmanuel Omolaja blamed the use of electric generators on the increasing exchange rate.

He opined that the price of solar has risen overtime because of the exchange rate of dollar-to-naira.

“The relative cost of solar to generators would have been almost the same and people would have been encouraged to use solar,” he said.

The government must focus on allowing the private sector drive renewable energy so that the business of the government will only be to trigger incentives for people to switch from using generators to renewable energy, Emmaunuel Omolaja advised.

This story was produced under the NAREP Media Oil and Gas 2021 Fellowship of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism.









Kenya’s “Excess” Power Generation Burdens the Country’s Electricity Distributor

Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) reports that the country’s electricity generating firms have increased their output to such an extent that the nation has a problem of idle power.

With rising cost of fuel and reduced rate of increase in demand, a heavy financial burden now lies on Kenya Power, the country’s distribution utility.

KenGen, the top generating company, and other power producers increased their supply to Kenya Power to 1.058Billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in March 2021, reports the Epra, a figure described by the, Business Daily Africa, the leading local financial newspaper, as an “all time high”.

“The March 2021 figure is an 11.8% rise from 946.09Million kWh that was supplied in the previous month and now jumps above the previous record supply that had been set last October”, the newspaper explains.

Business Daily Africa says that the spike in generation “exposedhomes and businesses to the burden of paying for idle electricity”amid depressed consumption. “Payments for idle electricity is a pass-on cost to consumers. The take-or-pay clause in contracts signed between government and power producers compels Kenya Power to buy the agreed amount of electricity regardless of whether or not the utility needs the energy”.

Kenya Power, the distribution company, has been struggling. In February 2021, it reported that revenue from the sale of electricity fell to $635Million (KSh69.014Billion) in the six months period that ended on December 31, 2020, compared to $641Million (KSh69.607 Billion) at the end of December 2019. Transmission and distribution costs dropped 19% to $17.2Million (KSh18.7Billion) from 212Million (KSh23Billion) in the corresponding half year period in 2019.

The March 2021 supply is for instance 41.5% higher than the 748.44Million kWh that Kenya Power sold to consumers in February 2021.

“The excess generation has been a major concern for Kenya Power, which has to pay for the electricity generated even when there is no market to sell it”, the daily concludes.

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