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AfDB and govt of Ethiopia join hands to boost electricity trade and youth employment

The industrial parks and youth project will offer opportunities for graduate agri-preneurs to establish agro-related, commercially viable businesses. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the government of Ethiopia have entered into an agreement to initiate projects related to youth employment, and electricity trade between Ethiopia and Djibouti

The agreement is worth US$118mn and involves AfDB's concessional lending window, the African Development Fund for the Productivity Enhancement to Support Agro Industrial Parks and Youth Employment Project (worth US$47mn), and the Ethiopia-Djibouti Second Power Interconnection Project (worth US$71mn).

The industrial parks and youth project will see the development of irrigation and water management infrastructure around the Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks, offering opportunities for graduate agri-preneurs to establish agro-related, commercially viable businesses. The UD$102mn venture is being co-financed by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), with a US$5.25mn contribution by the Ethiopian government.

Under the scheme, 12,607 ha of irrigated land would be developed, and about 3,000 youths will receive both agronomic/agriculture and business development training. Bank financing is expected to cover 4,607 ha and BADEA financing another 8,000 ha.

The irrigation infrastructure will strengthen water users’ associations; protect the water-shed areas around the irrigation schemes; go towards training farmers and youth agri-preneurs on soil and water conservation practices, agricultural production, value addition and marketing; and support established youth SMEs to access credit.

The project will be implemented over a five-year period (2021-2026) under the supervision of the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and the country’s Irrigation Development Commission.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti Second Power Interconnection Project follows an earlier Bank-financed power interconnection project between the two countries, and builds on its accrued benefits over the last 10 years. It will enable the construction of about 300 km of interconnector lines, 170 km of transmission lines to reinforce the network within Ethiopia, and new construction and expansion of substations in the two countries. In Djibouti, expected benefits include a 65% increase in customer connections and a sharp reduction in the use of thermal generation plants from 100% to around 16%. In Ethiopia, the project would lead to higher incomes from the power trade which over the last 10 years stood at more that US$275mn in revenue from power exports. 

Upon completion, Ethiopia’s revenue from power exports will increase, while boosting Djibouti’s access to reliable, affordable, and clean electricity, and lowering its greenhouse gas emissions.

“By enhancing economic ties through increased cross-border power trade and improved economic competitiveness, the project will contribute towards harnessing regional peace and stability and addressing regional fragility,” said Dr Abdul Kamara, deputy director general, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office of the African Development Bank.

The board of directors of the African Development Bank Group approved funding of both projects earlier in July and the grant agreements were signed last week by Ethiopian finance minister Ahmed Shide, and Kamara.

The African Development Bank has major contributions to make in Ethiopia’s development agenda, and currently has operations valued at about US$1.76bn, covering basic services, energy, transport, water supply and sanitation, agriculture, governance, and the private sector.

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