Eritrea wants to win back export markets by improving energy savings and refrigeration

With 1200km of Red Sea coastline and more than 359 islands, Eritrea has major fish resources. Indeed, this African country has traditionally exported fish (coral reef and pelagic fish; whole, gutted or filleted) as well as shrimp to Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Greece. Since 2007, however, Eurostat estimates that the volume of exports has fallen to no more than about 10 tonnes a year. In 2010, the Eritrean Government therefore decided to make the export of marine products to Europe a priority following the major investments made in the past decade in new factories, fishing vessels and landing sites.

The work of the SFP programme “Strengthening Fishery Products Health Conditions in the ACP/OCT countries” is part of this approach to winning back markets. In February, its expert, Mr Frank Hansen, undertook a specific mission: “Expert appraisal of refrigeration engineering in order to advise on refrigeration and storage options for factory-frozen products.” This followed an earlier preparatory mission carried out by John Ryder in December 2009. 

The Competent Authority is the Eritrean Ministry of Marine Resources while the National Fisheries Corporation operates various processing sites in the country, the principal ones being Erifish in Massawar and the Eritrean Marine Products Company (EMPC) in Asmara. 

The mission concentrated essentially on the first of these two sites. The aim was to help the site to optimise its energy needs while concentrating in particular on renovating and modernising the freezing technology. Mr Frank Hansen, assisted by local technicians, carried out a detailed technical inspection of the factory that had recently taken delivery of new equipment. This identified a number of problems with the water cooling equipment, ice machine, storage warehouse and cold production system and proposed either immediate solutions or a list of equipment to be acquired. These recommendations will make it possible to improve existing systems and to draw up a plan to optimise energy consumption. 

A visit to the Asmara factory was also the occasion for the expert to issue recommendations regarding plans to extend the site, the purchase of IQF (Individual Quick Freezing ) equipment and the installing of an ice machine.

The visits were rounded off by  a one-day workshop held for 16 members of the technical staff of the National Fisheries Corporation. The workshop concentrated on cooling theory and technology, refrigeration system components, energy performance and environmental aspects.  

“Overall, the factory maintenance level is quite low,” stated Mr. Frank Hansen in his mission report. There are two main reasons for this: there is little or no access to spare parts as there is no parts storage in Eritrea.  Also, the personnel lack training in equipment maintenance.” These final recommendations include the creation of a spare parts logistics (including consumables such as compressor oil and refrigerants) and the organisation of training. Particularly interested in this mission, the Eritrean Competent Authority   expressed its desire to receive similar aid for other installations operated by the National Fisheries Corporation.