Technology group Voith opens new hydropower projects Hub in Ethiopia
Voith, a technology group has opened its new East Africa Hub in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where it will be planning and coordinating projects in nine countries in the east of the continent from this new facility.
“Voith has been supporting the development of clean energy generation in Africa since the 1940s. We are reinforcing this commitment through the opening of our facility in Addis Ababa,” says Uwe Wehnhardt the CEO of Voith Hydro and Member of the Corporate Management Board.
Wehnhardt also emphasized the enormous potential of hydropower in the region. He says Voith will work with customers and investors to continue to play an active role in developing a sustainable energy supply in Africa adding that training measures are an important element for Voith and will in future also be coordinated from Addis Ababa.
"The purpose of the training is to pass on the company's extensive expertise in hydropower to local experts. Because Voith sees its role in the region not only as a supplier of cutting-edge hydropower technology but also as a full partner for developing energy infrastructure," says Wehnhardt.
The technology group officials say Ethiopia is a strategic location with customer proximity, strong economic growth, and hydropower potential. For example, all the countries serviced – Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia can be reached by direct flights in just a few hours.
"The proximity to our customers, and partners, as well as the hydropower market potential and impressive economic development in recent years, make Ethiopia an ideal base for our new site,” explains Uwe Wehnhardt.
With a hydropower potential of 45,000 MW, Ethiopia has one of the largest resources on the African continent. Since 2011, the country has been boosting the development of renewable energies and aims to be the energy hub for East Africa in the medium term.
“Due to the longstanding history of hydropower projects in Ethiopia, there are a large number of well-trained experts in the country. Some of these experts are now supporting us in our new East Africa Hub,” says Wehnhardt.
Already, Ethiopian hydropower plants with Voith technology are supplying up to 900,000 households in the country with clean, sustainable electricity. One of these power stations is Gilgel Gibe I, which went onto the grid in 2004.
Its three Francis turbines from Voith have a capacity of more than 180 MW – sufficient output to supply electricity to over 120,000 households in the rural Oromia region around 260 km to the south-west of Addis Ababa. For the Gilgel Gibe II, power plant Voith also supplied four Pelton turbines and generators and the electrical and mechanical equipment. It also trained the power plant personnel.
Before Gilgel Gibe II was operational, only 15 percent of Ethiopian villages had electricity. Nowadays half of all rural communities are connected to the grid.
Voith is also playing a leading role in hydropower projects in other East African countries. For example, the company is currently upgrading the small power plant Wanjii in Kenya. Voith is replacing the turbines, generators, control technology and all electrical and mechanical equipment. This will increase the capacity of the power plant by around 20 percent. The comprehensive upgrade is set to be completed by mid-2019.
The opening ceremony was attended by Ethiopia's State Minister of Water, irrigation, and Electricity Dr. Frehiwot Woldehanna, German ambassador to Ethiopia Brita Wagener, Uwe Wehnhardt, CEO of Voith Hydro and Member of the Corporate Management Board, and numerous guests from the business and political arenas.