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Ethiopia Launches ‘DREAM’ Program to Develop Solar-Powered Irrigation System

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Ethiopia Launches ‘DREAM’ Program to Develop Solar-Powered Irrigation System

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The Ethiopian government has launched the ‘Distributed Renewable Energy-Agriculture Modalities’ (DREAM) program to accelerate development in the agricultural sector of the country. The multi-stakeholder program aims at the large-scale deployment of solar mini-grids to power irrigation systems across Ethiopia.

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The DREAM project was launched at Addis Ababa and implemented by the Ethiopian Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands, Ministry of Water and Energy, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Agricultural Transformation Institute (ATI). The initiative is supported by several organizations, including the World Bank, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Ethiopia becomes the first country in Africa to benefit from the DREAM program. The initiative will enable the implementation of 200 solar mini-grids across the country to supply clean electricity to power irrigation systems. 

According to Habtamu Itefa, the Minister of Water and Energy, the DREAM program will benefit 290,000 people while creating at least 60,000 jobs. By 2030, solar mini-grids will contribute to offsetting 200,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Hizkyas Dufera, the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands, said the DREAM project has the potential to contribute to the ministry’s mandate to irrigate 2 million hectares of land by 2030. The ministry plans to leverage clean energy to achieve national food security through the expansion of commercially viable, climate-resilient, advanced-tech, and eco-friendly irrigation systems.

The agricultural sector of Ethiopia accounts for 32% of the country’s GDP and provides 70% of employment. According to official figures, only 5% of the land is irrigated and yields on small farms are below regional averages. The DREAM program will contribute to sustainable agriculture and grow the income of smallholder farmers.

Yifru Tafeses, the Deputy Director General at the Agricultural Transformation Institute, said the solar-powered irrigation project will pave the way for broader rural transformation. The launch of the initiative is a beginning of a great journey bridging irrigated agriculture and off-grid renewable energy in the country.

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