Ethiopia Agrees on First Deal for Privately Produced Electricity

Ethiopia’s government signed a deal to buy electricity from a geothermal-power plant being developed by companies including Reykjavik Geothermal Ltd. of Iceland, a partner in the project said.

The state agreed to purchase power at 7.53 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour in an accord signed on Monday during President Barack Obama’s visit to the Horn of Africa nation, said Edward Njoroge, chairman of the Corbetti Geothermal Power project. The signing, which follows talks backed by Obama’s Power Africa initiative, paves the way for development of the facility, he said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa.

“It was a major milestone,” said Njoroge, who represents Berkeley Energy, a Nairobi-based investor in renewable energy projects that’s one of at least four partners in Corbetti. “The drilling rigs now will be mobilized and we should have them within the next three months in the country and start drilling for the steam.”

Ethiopia is expanding electricity to supply an economy that grew at a faster pace than any other African country over the past decade. The government is using domestic resources and loans from partners including development banks and Chinese lenders to boost generating capacity from 2,300 megawatts. The Corbetti project in Ethiopia’s central Oromia region is the first by private companies in Ethiopia, where industries like power and banking are dominated by the state.

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