Project Trip January 2014

Wind Energy For Tula/Ethiopia 17th January - 14th February 2014

Travelling team

Daniel Gaffron, metal building special versions, glasswork, 17. 1. - 14. 2. 2014,
Jürgen Reinhardt, mechanical engineer i. R. Mockritz 17. 1. - 14. 2. 2014,
Dr. Jochen Hahn, priest, Rüsseina, 17. 1. - 14. 2. 2014,
Dr. Josef Staubach, mathematician / IT-Specialist, Pesterwitz, 24. 1. - 14. 2. 2014,
Helfried Vater, Master electrician and Electrical installations, Choren, 24. 1. - 7. 2. 2014,
Lutz Mummert, Master Heating and sanitary systems, Klessig, 24. 1. - 7. 2. 2014,
Holger Schneidereit, electronic special solutions, Meißen

Content of the report

  1. Aim of the trip.
  2. Project begin 2013.
  3. Bureaucrats jungle.
  4. Completion of purchases and the construction of the mast.
  5. A small service for the church Mekane Yesus.
  6. Important preparations and clarifications for a sure start to the project in Tula
    1. Material transportation to Tula
    2. Education of the three technicians; Educational cooperation.
    3. State of affairs in Tula: Transformer house and wooden masts
    4. Interesting things to note: How did we live in Tula? What was there to eat and drink?
    5. Storage possibility for the overseas transportation crates as well as the problem of re- charging of the accumulator block.
  7. An additional excursion: Inspection of the wind solar installation in Debo.
  8. Interesting things around and about.
    1. German Brand named tools.
    2. Bartering not possible - stores with fixed prices.
    3. Addis Abeba in the change - high-rises, terraces and high streets .
    4. A really old fleet of cars.
    5. A railroad arises again.
    6. Broken is just broken.
    7. New schools and lack of teachers.
  9. Perspectives

1. Aim of the trip

  • Completion of the mast construction for the wind power installation in the Workshop of the Ethiopian church Mekane Yesus in Addis Abeba.
  • Make purchases in Addis Abeba (aids, emergency electricity motor, tools…)
  • Complete assembly of a wind power, and solar plant incl. partial cabling in the Ethiopian village Tula.

2. Project begin 2013

In Jan. / Febr. 2013 in Tula, important preparations for the later installation could be realized (foundation work; partial construction of the mast; see -Result report 2013 under Also included in these preparations was the organisation, together with the Protestant Ethiopian church Mekane Yesus and the elders of Tula, to send three villagers on a short training course for an education in electro technology and to erect a small building according to plans, for the Transformer station.

Since early summer 2013, all components had been obtained in Rüsseina for the realisation of the project, prepared for assembly and packed for shipping. Since the procurement of the cables worked out to be extraordinarily difficult and expensive in Ethiopia , the cables for electro switchbox, turbine components, accumulator block and tools were bought in Germany, as well as other components like solar panels, charger regulators, alternator. All together six big wooden crates with a weight of 3,5 tons and a value of approximately 27.000 Euro. These expenditures were financed by generous donations of many private people and individual companies.

The GIZ (company for International cooperation) the Federal Republic of Germany had promised us the absorption of costs of the shipment by sea to Djibouti.

A problem already started to develop in the autumn of 2013: Our Ethiopian partner organization, the church Mekane Yesus, was given the task to get the transportation duty-free and to organize the import including the cross country transportation from Djibouti. Since this incorporates in Ethiopia an incredible amount of bureaucratic hurdles, In autumn 2013 on the part of the Ethiopian partner the smooth realization of the import was already being prepared. So, in good hope, on the 11. 11. 2013 the entire freight of was picked up from Rüsseina in order to then be shipped from Hamburg.

Thanks to the Agrarian business "Starbach Saxony" in Rüsseina, in whose halls the crates could be stored!

3. Bureaucratic jungle

We had at last actually arrived in Ethiopia. Hectic in the management floors of the research and development department of the church Mekane Yesus. Thanks to the very professional, friendly and insistent help from Thomas Hasse , a German co-worker of the church, assumed very concrete control throughout the questioning at the customs handling. Since the church was waiting for a renewed state import license due to the turn of the New Year, our intent was delayed. Always with it our anxious question: Do the crates come with us or not? What to do?

To calm your immediate anticipation therefore,: The final green light was given on the 22. 2. 2014, one week, after we had arrived again safely back in Germany, and the transportation didn't get going until the middle of March.

During our stay in Ethiopia, this question remained open the whole time because nobody could estimate the time it takes to get an import permit. After I saw the mountain of files in the state office responsible of the customs handling of the NGO (non-government organizations) in Addis Abeba with my own eyes, did I comprehended that with the immense number of stamps and letters of authorization to deal with for our process alone, it truly was a miracle to get a green light at all for the free import, let alone in February.

Result: The difficulty is not in erecting a wind solar system in Ethiopia. The difficulty is in giving the system to Ethiopia for free.

4. Completion of the mast construction and purchases

In the face of great adversity we took care of all there was to take care of. As planned, we could complete the mast construction together with the workshop master Tamrat in the "Kitchen-Workshop" in the first week. The 3 water pipes obtained from the scrap metal heap in 2013, as well as a lot of other accessories still existed and were still available . So, after Daniel and Holger repaired a very good gas welding machine - we could complete the mast in two days - despite power cuts. In our Ethiopian friend's yard Wolde Giorgis Demissie, we could give all metal parts a beautiful blue coat of paint.

Thanks to the help of the German church and school in Addis, (German school), almost all outstanding purchases left to do could be taken care of. Most important was the acquisition of a diesel run emergency electricity aggregate, many small tools and also wood preservatives needed to treat the base of the wooden masts that would be standing in the earth.

5. A small service for the church Mekane Yesus

There is a resplendent cross on the roof of the headquarters of the church Mekane Yesus (with after all 6 million Ethiopian members!) in Addis Abeba, that should be lit at night on the wish of the church, even when there is a power cut. Acting as a neutral party we could, without suspicion of wanting to make a profit, take a sightseeing tour of the high-rise roof create a small working concept of a lighting cross and show the responsible co-workers. In the conversation with the president of the church, it was also possible for us to portray our own project concerns.

6. Important preparations and clarifications for a sure start of the project in Tula

Since at the end of January 2014, we had to accept that the declarations for our containers would not be finished in time, we decided to check all the basic preparations in the district city Hosanna and in the village Tula and move things along a bit.

The following things were to be taken care of as well as following questions to be clarified:

  1. Transportation of all materials privately stored in Addis, to Tula.
  2. What was the situation of the education of the three chosen technicians? Which possibilities of further education could be available?
  3. Is it possible to initiate a cooperative between the polytechnic collage of Hosanna and the project in Tula?
  4. What is the state of things in Tula? Is the transformer house built correctly? Have the eucalyptus trunks for the street masts been cut?
  5. Where can the transportation crates be stored safely?
  6. Who will carry responsibility for the re-charging of the accumulator block?

To 1.: Material transport to Tula

Before the trip south to Tula, we decided to take all the materials and components, privately stored with the family of our friend's Wolde Giorgis Demissie, with us to Tula. This would mean that in 2015 project work would be able to be started immediately after our arrival. A ramshackle Pickup then brought mast pipes, electro installation material, (already from 2013), emergency power aggregate, Impregnation liquid, complete assortment of tools and much more, to Tula. The last half kilometre became too much of a heavy challenge for the vehicle and its city-pampered driver. I can still hear the drivers swearing now as we slowly and painstakingly, stone by stone advanced toTula …

To 2. and 3.:Education of the three technicians; Educational cooperation

In the district city Hosanna, there is a collage sponsored by Germany, that guarantees students an education for different crafts. The three chosen technicians, (two young men and a young woman), were just being taught about wind energy technology as we made our visit. The relatively modern teaching material was presented per laptop. Only a short study is anticipated in energy technology over a time period of approximately six weeks. That is clearly too little for the needs of our technicians to maintain our wind solar installation. In our conversation with the director, we arranged a post-education in the autumn 2014.

Moreover, we could, in agreement with the director of the school and the trainees responsible, agree that the trainees should be fully included in and their teaching inclusive of the construction and the installation of the wind-solar power project. The school shows a big interest in such a co-operation because the project itself represents an incalculable practice case in the subject of energy production, energy conversion and energy distribution.

For the project on the other hand this cooperation should help promote the lasting operation of the installation.

To 4. State of affairs in Tula: Transformer House and wooden masts

After finally arriving In Tula by jeep and rattling Pick-Up. A new problem was quickly established: The Transformer house. It was ready, according to the message received in advance. What presented itself to us was something very different. There stood a half-built shell, at which we could see straight away, that our drawing of 2013 apparently had not been taken into account. A pointed roof instead of flat one, clearly too wide, clearly too short, clearly too high. Even with the existence of the big transportation crates, we could not have erected the installation. How should we have accommodated the accumulator block, the entire collection of technical parts and electronics? So it was definitely good to be able to direct the things here, on the spot in a way that was intended so that later everything really and certainly would work out as it should.

Thanks to the accompanying church co-worker, Ato Abebe, this problem could be fixed after some friendly deliberations. What was the reason for the faulty construction? The people said: "We didn't understand the drawing". We soon realized: Abstract thinking is not learnt here. The drawing was very simple and showed the building from above and from the side (with Amharic and English word translations). What we didn't suspect: However, was that the village builders, who could build round cottages very well, following traditional technics, had not learnt to distinguish a drawing of a side view or even to read a technical drawing at all....

What to do? Demolish it completely? Not an option. This would demoralize the whole project. Partial rebuild of the construction? Rebuild? This was possible. Rebuild the pointed roof to the flat roof and add 1.5m length to the building. So in Hosanna we bought sufficient amounts of new corrugated iron and quickly made a new updated drawing. At this point it proved to be lucky that no clay walls had been constructed.

Thanks to Ato Abebes' great art of translation, the builders finally comprehended after long explanations. The workers got down to it. Eucalyptus trunks were split for the lateral walls and the roof construction was taken down. After two days of hard-work, the shell stood as we had imagined it. So, the Transformer station was now bigger than required, also good. This means an additional storage possibility if necessary. In the rain season, the walls will (hopefully) be packed with mud and straw. Two lockable doors should provide the necessary security.

With beer and lemonade, the topping-out ceremony was celebrated. This meant that the miseries didn't remain in the village instead a community joy took over the village atmosphere.

With a great talent in persuasion, Ato Ababa was able to explain to the villagers why the electricity station was not going to be completed this year. Disappointment was visible, but amazingly also much understanding of a situation, that could be changed by anyone.

It was very encouraging to know the fact that the masts had been cut from eucalyptus trunks. They had been distributed to the families. Despite some setbacks, the population of Tula appears to us to be agile and hard-working. In our first project village Debo (Ethiopian highland), this performance would have been completely unthinkable without payment.

As a side note: How did we live in Tula? What was there to eat and drink?

Only few meters from the electro house lay the small farmstead with a living hut and store as well as meeting house. We were accommodated in the corrugated iron-covered storehouse, and slept on fat straw mats on the ground. The only difference to Debo was that the flea population was relatively restricted. We had bought food to eat from Germany in the form of sausage meat and tinned fish, salamis, packs of cheese and for well-being sake, chocolate. We stocked up in Hosanna, with drinking water in plastic bottles as a precaution. The family supplied us with bread and coffee as well as water to wash with, now and then - in the plastic jerry can. "Toilet" was a hole in the ground in the back garden or just out in the nature. In the evenings, we were invited into the residential cottage. There, we were offered the typically Ethiopian Kollo (roasted grains or peas), Koltcho, a grey backed mass from the root of the wrong banana, which was a very palatable grey bread. There was a wonderful atmosphere in the residential cottage: A small fire in the middle (without a chimney), that admittedly, if it smoked made one's eyes weep, a tiny oil lamp on the centre column, 10 to 15 family members sitting on rolled up straw mats (on which they would later sleep) and at the other edge of the round cottage the entire wildlife: Horse, donkey, mule, cows, sheep, goats, chickens…which in the evenings, would stroll in one by one through the front door. After all, the cottage has a total diameter of more than 12 meters. However, the ventilation is extremely limited with only two doors and a tiny window opening.

To 5. and 6.: Storage possibility for the overseas transportation crates or moreover, the problem of the re-charging of the accumulator block

Since we wanted to guarantee, that the transportation crates would be safely unloaded and stored, we had the warehouse in the grounds of the Mekane Yesus church in Hosanna in our view. This is securely locked and stands on a secure site. So with that this important question was clarified relatively fast and simply.

Since the accumulator block must be fully re-charged again in April, at the latest (even discharge, Sulphate leakage). We gave the church administration in Hosanna a re-charger with instructions of how to connect it, in English. We had already brought the charger as a precaution from Germany. Eventually we will personally inspect the creates in April 2014, if they are there by then.

7. An additional excursion: Inspection of the wind solar installation in Debo

Since the outlook was not good that the transport crates were going to leave Djibouti, for several days, we decided to visit the project village Debo, (to see the reports about Debo look under This was particularly of very special importance for the "first time travellers" in our group to be able to inspect a complete working system with their own eyes.

Since the project in Debo has officially been run by the Berlin organization "Selbsthilfe Äthiopien e. V." since 2013, our visit had purely the function of an inspection. Therefore, we rightly thought it sensible, to explain these changes of responsibility, in person, on site. The inspection was very informative for us, also for the realization of the project in Tula. The results of the inspection can only be hinted here.

The installation in Debo is still producing power. At least that was the first bit of good news. After all, it has been working continually, with only a few interruptions, since 2008. There are a few complicated problems there which urgently need to be regulated, with an intensive assistance from the Berlin organisation.

  1. The two maintenance technicians are no longer working for the practical sense of the maintenance of the installation. This is presumably the reason why the wind energy installation admittedly runs wonderfully, but doesn't feed any electricity into the circuit. At the moment the energy is being exclusively delivered by the solar installation.
  2. The Workshop, which had been equipped with important small appliances, had been moved into a new room. Unfortunately, the appliances just lie there, unused. A new arrangement is urgently necessary here, (Maybe the school could make use of them or some smart people that want to work with the appliances).
  3. Due to the introduction of state-controlled electricity, a double network is available for the hospital and the church. The state-controlled electricity is distributed into the buildings in a rather more bizarre manner.
  4. Due to the absence of active maintenance technicians the thought has not arisen to the possible connection of further buildings although enough alternative electricity is available.


Off the record, for the maintenance of such a complex installation a close and continuous structure of responsibility is needed on site. Also, keeping up the motivation of a good quality maintenance has not been made a simple task through the existence of state-controlled electricity. Here, we wish the Berlin club good success with the care of this project. Wolde Giorgis Demissie was in Debo in March 2014, in order to examine the problems there personally and to organize solutions.

8. Interesting things on the side

8. 1. German brand name tools

Compared to years gone past, the tool stores on the Piazza in Addis are now increasingly offering German brand named goods instead of cheap Asian products, (for example Bosch blue, Makita), and this at prices, that exceed those in German, by far. Apparently, one affords this in favour of longer durability. Otherwise, Chinese products still dominate the market.

8. 2. Bargaining not possible - stores with fixed prices

In most stores, "Ferenchi-Prices" (prices for whites) are offered on demand, therefore double price will be asked. Bargaining is then the norm., however, this turns a short shopping trip into a long procedure.

However: There are often tool stores now with fixed prices, of which we had not so frequently experienced earlier. There is still space to negotiate but admittedly the amounts negotiable are today, very narrow.

8. 3. Addis Abeba in the change - high-rises, Terraces and high raised streets

Whoever was not in Addis for some years would hardly recognize the city now. Modern shaped high-rises are in construction everywhere. Big raised streets cross squares and main streets. A tram is planned to run here in a few years, all built and delivered through Chinese companies. Through round-abouts and generously wide streets, the formerly wild traffic, clearly appears calmed. Admittedly, grotesque building sites occur: Due to the construction of a raised tram line, that is surrounded by concrete walls, at the moment it is not possible for cars or for pedestrians to cross over the road for a distance of one to two Km. For side-streets leading to this road it is only possible then simply to turn right. It is said that in the offer from the Chinese, only the marked out street routes were included in the sale and not however, the crossings… only very nimble people, will in future be able to, by climbing over the wall, visit a shop or a friend on the other side of the street.

8. 4. A really old fleet of cars

30 percent of all vehicles in Ethiopia are older than 30 years. 99 percent would not survive the German M.O.T. It costs cost enormous sums to import cars, since the customs make completely disproportionate charges. The ancient LADAs or Toyotas are constantly revived, wheels wobble, they rub in the wheel arch, the driver has to perform hard labour due to the huge amount of play in the steering at the wheel, the tires have been driven almost naked of treed, the chase has rusted through time and again, speedometer and other innards gave up the ghost many moons ago, cables hang loosely, headlights glow only for themselves… the to do list is infinite. We are met each year by more and more witnesses to severe accidents on open streets. In this sense, one can be grateful when renting a jeep if the vehicle and driver are in at least halfway good condition.

8. 5. A railroad arises again

Once upon a time there was a railway - from Djibouti to Addis Abeba. Financed by the French, and completed in 1917, a length of 785 km, (39 tunnels and 34 stations). The route has been lying still for years although a bulk of the Ethiopian import runs over the harbour of Djibouti and an effective transportation is urgently necessary. Just before the city Awash, the old route now lies flooded under water since the local water levels are continually rising. Now, the railroad is under re-construction, this time through Chinese companies.

8. 6. Broken is just broken

The workshop of the church Mekane Yesus was originally (When?) and deliberately built generously and well. However the ramp is filled with rubbish, the sanitary installations are practically and almost completely out of order and the modern gas welder has not been working for more than three years already. The solution to the problem then seemed to reach for old badly working appliance. Two of our people, Holger Schneidereit and Daniel Gaffron, brought the modern appliance, in approximately 20 minutes, back to running order. It was not even broken but the only reason for it not working was because of a wrong setting. The workshop master Tamrat was as happy as a sand man. But it had not accord to him to get it repaired in the last three years. Why is that?

A personal view: Until today, the Ethiopians (also like other Africans ), have lived for thousands of years with natural materials. Therefore, the life restricted itself to these few "components" ( round mud hut, store hut, livestock, digging sticks or so to say a plough hook, an axe and naturally grown hand tools, clay pots) These things were so elementary that they could be replaced with very little effort when they became defect. However, the materials themselves were irretrievably perishable. They were not repaired. Broken is just broken. And the substitute is obtained quickly. All additional modern life components are apparently treated similarly. Only, they cannot simply be replaced just like a naturally-grown pitchfork. So the fact remains. Broken is just broken.

8. 7. New schools and the lack of teachers

The main problem in the developing Ethiopian society is the problem of education. Development experts pour out their sorrow: New schools are erected and many new universities. That is a good message in principle. But there are much too few qualified Teachers and lecturers. If a student is especially good, they will receive a short education and quickly be positioned as a teacher for students. Their development of knowledge is restricted. In this vicious circle the level of education stays at the lowermost threshold. We could already clearly see this as we viewed several training centres. The metal training workshops for example are equipped with good machines. But at the first look it already becomes clear, that they had not been used for a long time. It is similar in Electrical training rooms: We were shown with pride, how the individual tables can be provided with electricity. However the electric cables in the room are laid bizarrely, the main fuse is bridged with a nail and the equipment sparse. There is hardly a real practical-referential education. The big production utility "Selam" in Addis Abeba now makes a glorious exception, earlier in Swiss hands and now in Ethiopian hands.

9. Perspectives

In the hope, that our material crates arrive without damage in Hosanna, with a group of approximately 6…7 people, we will erect the entire wind solar installation in Tula and lay cables to some of the village, in January 2015. Together with the qualified technicians and teachers from Hosanna several houses will be expertly connected to the power supply. The technicians should be admitted into all performances on that occasion so that they can learn and take over the extension of the installation under their own management. In the following years, we have not planned any further project for the moment but want to concentrate on the communications and stabilization of the project in the village Tula.

This Tula-Project stands in high public interest and should become a pilot project for the whole region. But we must first put this into action.

Thank very much to all, that have provided man power and donations to help this project! Thank you!

March 2014 gez. Dr. J. Hahn, Rüsseina.

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