By Pawlos Belete
In Capital newspaper, Tuesday, 15 November 2011, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
Two years after the international conference held in Bonn, Germany adopted to set up the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Ethiopia tabled the bill to ratify the establishment of the agency that will allow the country to benefit from technological transfer and financial assistance from the agency.
The agency that is financed by member countries’ yearly contribution will help boost researches and projects of renewable energy.
During its ordinary session held on Tuesday November 8, the House of People’s Representatives, Wendimu Gezahegn, deputy government whip explained the benefits of ratifying the bill saying Ethiopia will benefit from ratifying the bill that would allow it to become a member. “As a founding member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) based IRENA, Ethiopia will benefit from technology transfer and capacity building. It is easy for Ethiopia to find finance and investment opportunities for renewable energy projects it undertakes from member countries. Last but not least is that Ethiopia may develop its expertise in the area of renewable energy through experience sharing, policy debates, technology selection, and other incentive mechanisms that comes out of being a member of the Agency,” he explained.
Ethiopia will have to contribute an annual fee of 1,285 dollars as a membership fee based on the scale of assessment of the United Nations that sets membership fees for member countries.
IRENA was formed in January 2009 in Bonn, Germany. It opened its head office in Masada, United Arab Emirates and has research and development office in Bonn. So far 75 countries from four continents have joined IRENA.
After a fairly passive discussion, the bill was sent to Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Affairs Standing Committee for further discussion.
In other legislative news, nineteen towns are slated to become urban development corridors.
The Urban Infrastructure Development Program will use a 150 million dollar loan from the World Bank to improve infrastructure. The loan will be paid back over forty years after a ten year grace period. It has an interest rate of 0.75 percent. The agreement has also included a commitment interest fee of not more than 0.5 percent on unused loan annually.
The government has been implementing it since 2008 through a loan obtained from the private arm of World Bank, International Finance Cooperation (IFC). The house sent the bill to two of its sixteen standing committees; Budget and Finance, and Urban Development and Construction Affairs Standing Committees for further discussion.
The third bill is that of road development regarding a loan agreement for the construction of the much talked about Bole road for the past five years. The Export Import Bank of China has provided a loan amounting to 60 million dollar for the construction of the 4.3 Km long and 40 meter wide road. The loan has an annual interest rate of two percent and will be paid in 13 years after seven years of grace period.
Irrigation and drainage canal development will also be assisted with a 60 million dollar, interest free loan from IFC. It will be paid in 40 years.