Russian Nuclear Power in Ethiopia

Ezra Yoseph
March 25, 2021

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2021


Fig. 1: Alexey Likhachev (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In 2017, the governments of Ethiopia and Russia signed a Memorandum of Understanding which would work to bolster exchange and expand the amount of tradable commodities for both countries. According to the Rosatom, a Russian state corporation specializing in nuclear energy, this Memorandum specifically details plans to develop infrastructure related to nuclear power, applications of safety regulation for a nuclear plant, and security for the nuclear materials in Ethiopia. [1] Two years later, the countries agreed to a multi-year plan to develop a center for nuclear science as well as a nuclear power plant in Ethiopia which is estimated to be ready by 2029. Their agreement was made under the International Atomic Energy Agency which permits the use of nuclear energy for the purpose of peaceful development. This agreement was officially signed at the Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi by Rostatom Chief Executive, Alexey Likhachev (shown in Fig. 1), and Ethiopia's Minister of Technology, Getahun Mekuria. [2,3]

Importance of Nuclear Power for Ethiopia and Russia

Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa with a population greater than 110 million people. As of 2018, more than half of this population either has no access to electricity or use insufficient power sources such as dry-cell batteries and off-grid electricity to meet their energy demands. [4] In order to adequately support their large population and promote economic growth, the Ethiopian government is constantly exploring different ways to get foreign governments to invest in various domestic developments. The nuclear power deal with Russia will ultimately allow for Ethiopia to have an alternate option for renewable energy which can potentially be used to stimulate Ethiopia's economy and provide electricity to millions of people. Meanwhile Russia stands to benefit from this deal because nuclear plant in Ethiopia will contain reactors which can generate radioactive isotopes for medical, agriculture and research purposes. [1,2] As of now, details concerning how much Russia will spend on nuclear power in Ethiopia is unknown to the public. With that being said, Russia did agree to allocate $190 million (USD) in order to fund the 4.8 gigawatt El Dabaa Nuclear Power project in Egypt. [5] This funding was decided at the same Sochi conference where Ethiopia and Russia signed their multi-year deal and is suggestive of the type of funding Ethiopia received in order to build their own plant. Looking towards the future, both Ethiopia and Russia should continue to be transparent about their nuclear power plant developments and strive to make the implementation of nuclear energy as stress-free as possible for the citizens of Ethiopia.

© Ezra Yoseph. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "Ethiopia, Russia Sign MoU, Protocol Agreement," Africanews, 18 Mar 17.

[2] T. Kassa, "Ethiopa, Russia Signs Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy," Ethiopian Herald, 24 Oct 19.

[3] G. Mekuria, "Speech at the 63rd IAEA Regular Session," International Atomic Energy Agency, 16 Sep 19.

[4] "Ethiopia: Beyond Connections," World Bank, June 2018.

[5] "Russia Allocates $190M to Infrastructure of Dabaa Nuclear Plant," Egypt Today, 23 Oct 19.