In Ethiopia, the water, food and energy trilemma is a starting point for the sustainable development of the country. This awareness motivates Enel Green Power, working alongside local institutions.
There is a close link between water, food security and energy. A connection – or nexus – that demonstrates the interdependence of the trilemma’s parts, all key to providing life to human beings.
It’s impossible to break the connection between water, food and energy. And bringing them together for sustainable development is an even more complex challenge, which the future of countries like Ethiopia depends on.
Projections and analysis like the the UN’s World Population Prospects 2017 tell us, for example, that the African population will increase significantly, by 2.3% a year, through 2050, reaching 2.53 billion people.
Ethiopia will follow the continental trend, with a population that will grow from today’s 85 million to 133 million in 2030 and 170 million in 2050.
In the coming decades, this frenetic population growth – which will mainly be in large urban centers – will increase demand on water, food and energy. This high demand will require an equally powerful effort to ensure sustainable, widespread and shared development.
Enel Green Power has incorporated the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the UN’s 2030 Agenda into its business model. In Africa, it is one of the main private renewable energy operators and aims to help local institutions combine the three parts of the nexus.
A Green Answer
Without energy, there is no water. Without water, there’s no food. With this in mind, access to reliable, modern and affordable energy sources, as laid out in SDG 7, is the first step to building the sustainable development of tomorrow.
In Ethiopia, however, about 60% of the population still doesn’t have access to energy, due to an obsolete and incomplete grid.
It’s a structural deficit that can compromise the nexus, for both water and food. Energy can power a well, a filter or a desalination system, to make water available. That water can then be used to irrigate, cook, conserve food and trigger a virtuous development process.
But renewable sources aren’t just the key to charging the elements of the nexus with energy. They’re also the key to facilitating access to new financing sources to create new investment models and successful business models.
The entire African continent is a land that is rich in renewable resources, which will allow for the production of 160 GW of green energy by 2030. Ethiopia is no exception. In recent years, it became the first country in the area to launch an ambitious plan to increase its production of renewable energy.
Whether it be in utility scale plants, microgrids, or investments in grid improvements, the new infrastructure will allow access to low-cost electricity to a higher and higher number of people, to power the nexus that connects energy, food and water.
In Ethiopia, Enel Green Power presented an offer in 2017 to construct the Metehara utility scale photovoltaic plant, in the region of Oromia, about 200 km from Addis Ababa.
At St. Luke Hospital in Wolisso, built in 2000 by the Italian NGO “Doctors with Africa CUAMM”, we recently inaugurated an innovative hybrid photovoltaic and battery plant able to guarantee a constant supply of energy to the hospital, which is unfortunately prone to frequent and dangerous blackouts.
Energy plays a leading role in the water, food and energy nexus, since it leads to access to the two vital elements. At Enel Green Power, we are very aware of this and it inspires us to work every day for the sustainable development of Ethiopia and the entire African continent.