(This May 18 story has been refilled to correct the amount that Ethiopia earns annually from electricity exports)
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia has started to ration electricity for domestic and industrial customers after a drop in water levels in hydroelectric dams led to a production deficit, the minister for water and electricity, Seleshi Bekele, said on Friday.
The drop in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam had led to a deficit of 476 megawatts, Seleshi told a news conference, more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.
Ethiopia has also suspended electricity exports to neighboring Djibouti and Sudan, which earns the country $82 million a year, the minister said.
Under the rationing programme, which runs until July, domestic consumers will face blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms will have to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts, Seleshi said.
Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Catherine Evans and Louise Heavens