The Sustainable Energy Programme

The Sustainable Energy Program

The Sustainable Energy Program at the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center & Network (HoA-REC&N), in collaboration with its partners, was established to address the energy problems faced by the Horn of Africa by developing, promoting and disseminating a wide range of renewable and efficient energy technologies. It is principally geared towards improving the access, quality and efficiency of household energy.


Countries in the Horn of Africa are heavily dependent on non-sustainable biomass to meet their energy needs, which in Ethiopia accounts for nearly 94% of the total national energy consumption. In rural areas in particular, where houses are scattered and connection to the electricity grid is unlikely, fuel wood, crop residues, charcoal, kerosene and dung are the popular choices for cooking and lighting. The use of these fuels has, and will continue to have, damaging environmental consequences for the Horn, and seriously harm the health of its population.

Negative impacts of traditional fuel use
  • As a result of high demand for fuel wood, woodlands have been severely deforested, a practice which continues at an alarming rate.
  • The subsequent decline in fuel wood means people are turning to dung and crop residues as a fuel source, products usually used to maintain soil fertility. This impacts crop yields and the long-term productivity of the land.
  • Burning of these fuels leads to air pollution, notably with indoor pollutants, which has implications for both the environment and human health. According to the World Health Organization, in Ethiopia, over 50,000 deaths each year are attributed to indoor air pollution, primarily from the burning solid fuels.
  • Traditional kerosene lamps used for lighting emit very low levels of light, limiting some activities after sundown such as studying and reading.

The aim of the Sustainable Energy Program is to promote and develop sustainable and locally available fuel alternatives, such as energy from renewable sources and waste-to-energy systems. Through small and large scale projects, the Program investigates alternative options to traditional energy fuels and promotes energy efficient technologies to mitigate overdependence on non-renewable and polluting energy sources.


The main objective of the program is to develop, promote and disseminate a wide range of renewable and efficient energy technologies, with a focus on improving the access, quality and efficiency of household energy.

Project Longevity

Where possible, a commercial approach is adopted, so that after a project is phased out, the established value chain can continue to function independently. The long-term sustainability of projects is also encouraged by providing training to producers and end-users, networking with local and international partners (for example Non-Governmental OrganizationOrganizations (NGOs), Community-based OrganizationOrganizations (CBOs), Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and governments) and through business development. An additional element to the projects under the Sustainable Energy Program is the generation of saleable carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, bringing economic benefits to local communities.

Activities and Achievements

Active projects include:

  • The EU Energy Facility Project
  • Repi Landfill
  • Dilla Briquette Factory
  • Areke Production in Arsi-Negelle
  • TERI – HoAREC (improved cookstoves)
  • Carbon-neutral Coffee (the cookstove component)
  • Biogas Transport