Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia will never stop its program to construct hydro power dams because of lack of external support.
The premier made the remark while opening the Conference of Hydropower for Sustainable Development 2011 here on Thursday.
On the occasion, he said government has decided to exploit Ethiopia’s abundant resources to generate electricity from renewable sources not only to relieve the acute shortage of electric power in the country but also to export to neighboring countries.
Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia has set an ambitious plan to build up to 8000MW of additional capacity from hydropower in the next five years.
PM Meles Zenawi said “We are convinced of … the role of our hydropower projects in eliminating poverty in our country that we will use every ounce of our strength, every dime of money that we can save to complete our program.”
Meles said the country needs the support of all development partners to build the dams as the country’s savings are inadequate.
Ethiopia is very grateful to all development partners for their support of the country’s hydropower projects so far and hopes this will continue in the future.
“If the partners are deterred from doing so because of the noisy campaign of environmental extremists and some politicians with old fashioned ideas, they will in effect be condemning millions of Africans to poverty” he said.
Meles said downstream countries benefits from the dams in Ethiopia, as the dams prevent flooding and siltation in lower riparian countries as well as generate clean energy that would be used by downstream countries.
UN-ECA Secretary-General, Abduolie Janneh on his part said consisting 14 percent of the world population, Africa’s electric power share accounts for only 3 percent.
He said the continent has developed only 7 percent of its hydroelectric power potential so far.
AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim said AUC is committed to support and promote the exploitation and development of the vast hydroelectric potential of the major river basins in Africa, through the construction of hydropower plants and interconnection of high voltage power transmission networks between 2010 and 2020.
She called on development partners to support “Hydropower 2020” Initiative through removing all the constraints hindering the development of major hydropower projects in the continent.
AUC had officially launched the “Hydropower 2020” Initiative on the sideline of the 12th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the AU held in Addis Ababa in February 2009.
Scholars, professionals and representatives of pertinent organizations drawn from various countries are taking part in the two-day conference.