Ethiopia opens Africa's largest wind farm

The largest wind farm in Africa was launched in northern Ethiopia on 26 October by prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn who said Ethiopia could not "maintain growth without utilising the energy sector."

The €210 million, 120 MW Ashegoda wind farm is located some 800 km north of Addis Ababa and has 84 turbines.

The facility was manufactured by French firm Vergnet SA with faciliated with loans from BNP Paribas and the French Development Agency (AFD), while the Ethiopian government paid nine per cent of the cost.

Around 700 local farmers were moved off the land and compensated by the goverment, although some complained they did not receive enough funds to buy a similar sized plot.

The wind farm is a central plank of Ethiopia's plan to move away from its reliance on hydropower-generated electricity – the current source of almost all of its electicity – and to diversify into wind and geothermal power, eventually becoming a major energy exporter in the Horn of Africa region.

The country intends to increase its energy-generating capacity from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW within the next three to five years. Much of this energy will come from the 6,000 MW Grand Renaissance Dam under construction on the Nile near the border with Sudan.

Ashegoda is the second such project in the country after the 51 MW Adama I wind farm, which began production in 2011. Located just outside the city of Adama, south-east of the capital, 85 per cent of the project's costs were covered by loans from the Chinese government, with Ethiopia paying the balance.