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The Energy Sector in Eritrea Institutional and Policy Options for Improving Rural Energy Services

Semereab Habtetsion and Zemenfes Tsighe

Department of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mines


The energy consumption patterns and in particular, those of the rural household and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Eritrea are assessed. Eritrea's total final energy consumption in 1998 was estimated to be around 619,580 toe, of which 68% was consumed by the household sector, 16% by the commercial/public sector, 13% by transport and 3% by industry. The sources of energy were 66.3% biomass based (fuelwood, dung, charcoal, agri-residue), 31% oil products and 2% electricity.  It is also noted that 98% of the rural population and 20% of the urban residents do not have access to electricity. Over 80% of the energy needs of rural enterprises is met by biomass or animate/human labour. To analyse the root problems hindering the wider dissemination of modern energy services to rural areas, two key hypotheses related to policy and institutional framework were selected and tested. The findings indicate that Eritrea has general energy policies pertaining to the development of electricity, oil and renewable energy sub-sectors for the benefit of the public and the economy. The absence of sharply focussed, pro-rural energy policy and/or their policy instruments has been observed. The key problem is, however, the weakness in implementation of rural energy projects and programmes. This is mainly due to inappropriate institutional structure and/or gaps in the structure, in addition to lack of corporate culture; poor incentives for workers; and, poor linkages among the various stakeholders concerned in energy for rural development.

Keywords and phrases: Rural energy, policy, institutional framework.



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