I listened to Ato Misikier
Negash's interview about the progress being made in Ethiopia
tapping into its electricity potential. I am glad the capacity is
growing by leaps and bounds. However, I think Ethiopia should consider an
alternative policy in its attempt to tap into its enormous potential of
producing electricity. It looks like the Ethiopian govt is looking at
electricity as a right of the masses and not as a commodity which is being
openly traded in the world market.
I sympathize with the goal of the Government to produce as much electricity as possible so as to electrify every wigwam and village in the Nation. However, if electricity is a commodity or as the CEO of the Salini Corporation defined it as “white oil”, why not treat it as such and allow foreign capital to produce it in mass. What I am trying to say is let us assume electricity is a commodity like its brethren the black oil - petroleum. If that is the case, there isn't a single country which extracted it from the ground on its own. Every country in the World which has become an oil exporting entity has let it be discovered, produced and exploited by major Oil companies like Exxon Mobil, Texaco, BP, Total etc. True soon after its discovery most or all Nations fully or partially nationalized the production. Simultaneously the citizens of those countries benefited from such actions of their governments. For e.g. in Saudi Arabia a gallon of petroleum costs less than water. Iranians enjoy some of the lowest cost of petroleum in the World. Thus, if Ethiopia were to allow those with deep pockets to tap into its potential of producing 60000 mega watt electricity and let them peddle it to whoever is willing to pay for it, be it The Gulf Arabs, Kenya, Sudan, Southern Europe, its citizenry will benefit the same way as the Arab bedewis are by getting low priced electricity as there will always be market fluctuations and not to mention the Govt can always preclude a set aside program whereby a portion of any electricity produced in the Nation will have to be consumed locally. Mind you as we speak, we are producing only a tiny fraction of our potential!
The current price of green electricity is any one's guess. The fact is that the Gulf Arab countries which are a hundred miles away from our border are burning fossil fuel thereby contributing to green house gases and any cap and trade will make our environmentally sound green electricity to replace those dirty ones ever more precious and pricy. By the way, those gas guzzling turbines in the Gulf are contributing to pollution in our Nation and beyond.
We don’t have to abolish the electric monopoly as it exists. But we sure can establish a parallel system whereby we will allow those with deep pockets and knowhow to come and treat our most precious commodity The White Oil with the respect it deserves. It boggles my mind why we didn’t treat it with the respect it deserves! (be eji yale werk ke medab kuter new)
As we stand, Ethiopia is facing hurdles with financing the Gibe III, IV and other projects on various grounds. But I doubt if Credit Lyonaise, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase or any of the Swiss banks will have problem tapping into the trillions which is in their management for trying to turn our invisible treasure into the genie which will ultimately liberate us from the yoke of eternal poverty and misery. Time is not on our side, as we speak the biggest competitor, Congo, is stabilizing and is soon to unleash its potential which is ten times bigger and has mighty China behind it!