China helps Ethiopia with off-grid solar

Ethiopian utility and Huawei sign MoU to provide solar electricity to communities in off-grid areas

Ethiopia, which joined the BRICS group of emerging economies on 1 January 2024, currently generates around 90% percent of its electricity from renewable sources due to its large hydropower capacity. However, according to to World Bank only just over half of Ethiopia’s population has access to electricity.

The Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese communication company Huawei on Friday 12 April, 2024. This agreement, signed during the Ethiopia Green Energy Summit 2024, aims to achieve universal electricity access by providing electricity to people living in remote areas currently not connected to the national grid.

“This MoU reflects our national electrification plan to reach everyone by 2030,” stated Shiferaw Telila, CEO of EEU. The collaboration will prioritize utilizing solar power to illuminate off-grid zones.

The partnership extends beyond just generation. Shiferaw emphasized plans to “expedite electricity digitization, establish and manage data centers, and bolster electric vehicle charging infrastructure” across Ethiopia.

Trimfeed reportes that “this partnership is part of Ethiopia’s broader initiative to increase the country’s electrification rate and transition towards sustainable energy sources, particularly in underserved rural communities. In the case of Ethiopia, the country has become the first African nation to prohibit the use of internal combustion vehicles for personal purposes. Its green economy strategy emphasizes a focus on renewable energy sources.

The MoU enables a strategic partnership between the EEU and Huawei to carry out on digital transformation, corporate culture, green energy, and management collaboration.

Speaking at the Ethiopia Green Energy Summit, Liu Jifan, CEO of Huawei Ethiopia, said that in the last few years, many African countries, including Ethiopia, have taken initiatives towards environmental challenges. “In recent decades, the instability of the electricity system and the significant rise in oil costs in Africa have provided new prospects for solar energy solutions”, the CEO said. He added that Huawei was committed “to making Ethiopia a greener place with our power electronics and ICT technology.”

According to official statistics cited by Xinhua, Ethiopia’s current energy production is heavily dependent on hydropower, which accounts for about 90 percent of energy production. In addition, Ethiopia has the potential to generate more than 60,000 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources, including hydro, wind, solar and geothermal.

The project initiated by the EEU in November 2023 aims for the electrification of up to 200 rural towns using 30 off-grid power generation stations in one of the largest off-grid projects. While off-grid electricity presents significant potential to enhance energy access and reach throughout the country, legislative hurdles have presented a formidable challenge for investors throughout the years, according to EEU’s Shiferaw Telila, as reported by Addis Fortune News.

The Ethiopia Green Energy Summit brought together government officials from the Ethiopian Electric Utility, the Ethiopian Electric Power, Petroleum and Energy Authority alongside private sector players and facilitated a “Green Energy Dialogue” session to discuss the challenges and opportunities of EV charging and green energy adoption in Ethiopia, providing a platform for knowledge exchange, networking, and collaboration in the green energy, data center facilities, critical power, and EV charging industries. The summit aims to bring together all decision-makers from public and private organizations interested in the implementation of renewable energy in Ethiopia.


Addis Standard, April 15, 2024.

Xinhua, April 13, 2024.

Addis Fortune News, April 29, 2024.