Taken from http://www.renewableenergyworld.com

Statistics from the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MoME) indicate that the country spends about Ethiopian Birr 10 billion (US$800 million) annually to import petroleum products for domestic consumption. The figure, according to the MoME represents more than 90 percent of Ethiopia’s earnings from foreign trade each year. Were the country to tap some of its renewable energy potential, the energy independence it would achieve as a result, would be a boon to the economy.

Because of its location, Ethiopia is perhaps one of the most-suitable nations in Africa for tapping renewable sources of energy not only for its own economy, but also for export into regional economies such as Kenya, which is always looking at enhancing its energy capacity.

While Ethiopia boasts of numerous green energy possibilities such as geothermal, solar and wind power generation, it is the biodiesel sub-sector that has taken off over the last few years and continues to witness increased attention both from the government and development partners from abroad.

Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in Africa but it is also one of the driest, a factor that renders most of its land unsuitable for agricultural production. This has led the Ethiopian government to shift its focus to biodiesel crops that flourish under the harsh climatic conditions of Ethiopia.

The shift from expensive fossil fuels to cost-effective biofuels has received a stamp of approval from the Ethiopian government. It recently approved a 16-page renewable energy strategic document that was prepared under a collaborative partnership between the MoME, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD).

The most popular biodiesel plants in Ethiopia include castor seeds and jatropha curcas. Numerous companies from India, Europe, Israel and the United States have formed joint partnerships with local companies to help grow the plants for biodiesel extraction.

One of these companies that has already started operations is Global Energy Ethiopia (GEE), which has pumped in more than Ethiopian Birr 200 million (US$ 20 million) in a castor and jatropha seed farming and processing program that will allow GEE to process more than 40,000 tonnes of crude oil when fully operational. GEE started production in 2007 after it leased more than 30,000 hectares of land in Wolaita Soddo in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR).

Read the article in full here