Ethiopia activates US$1.6bn hydroelectric dam

GibeEthiopia's Gibe III hydroelectric dam will generate up to 6,500GWh of electricity per year (Source: Twitter/Salini Impregilo)The latest in a series of ambitious hydroelectric dam construction projects in Ethiopia has launched as plans progress to harness the country's abundant water supply

Gibe III, located on the Omo River 450km southwest of the capital Addis Ababa, is touted as the tallest of its kind in the world and boasts an installed capacity of 1,870MW with the potential to generate up to 6,500GWh of electricity per year – almost doubling Ethiopia's electricity ouput.

Standing at 250m, Gibe III is powered by ten Francis turbines.

Sixty per cent of the project financing is covered by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), while the remaining 40 per cent is handled by the Ethiopian Government.

 

A "dream" project

Ethiopia's PM Hailemariam Desalegn inaugurated the project in the presence of dignitaries including Water, Irrigation and Electricity minister Eng Sileshi Bekele, project builder Salini Impregilo's chief executive Pietro Salini, and Ethiopian Electric Power chief executive Azeb Asnake. 

"This is a very special day for Salini Impregilo and in particular for me," commented Salini in a speech.

"What was considered a dream – after years of hard work – has now become a reality.

"We are grateful to Ethiopian Electric Power and the Federal and Regional governments for dealing with us as partners in development, and for trusting our capacity for completing Gibe III."

The inauguration of Gibe III is part of a dam building package that includes Gibe I and Gibe II as Ethiopia targets a generation capacity of 40,000MW by 2035.

Currently under construction, the €3.3bn (US$3.5bn) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) – also being built by Salini Impregilo – is located approximately 500km northwest of Addis Ababa in the region of Benishangul, Gumaz along the Blue Nile.

Set to complete next year, the dam measures 1,780m in length, 155m in height, with a water volume of 10,200,000m3, making it Africa's largest.

It will boast an installed power capacity of 6,000MW, with a generation capacity of 15,000GWh/year.

 

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