Ethiopa Plans Biggest Hydroelectric Dam in Africa
Written By: John Shimkus
Ethiopia has announced plans to develop the largest hydroelectric power project in Africa. Ethiopian Power Corp. has selected Salini Construttori Spa, a Rome, Italy-based construction company to build the “Great Millennium Dam” for close to $5 billion.
The dam will be constructed on the Nile River just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border of Sudan. It is estimated that the dam will produce 5,250 MW of electricity. The first 700 MW are due to come online by 2015. The project will be the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa.
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Ethiopia has had difficulty securing loans from multinational banks for hydroelectric projects in the past, and plans to fund the entire project with government funds. The dam’s cost would use 95 percent of the government’s yearly fiscal budget.
Environmental impact studies have yet to be released, and there is some concern over relations with Egypt and other countries sharing the Nile insofar as collaborating on the possible environmental effects of building such a massive project.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi states, “Ethiopia is sometimes characterized as the water tower of Africa. With its over 45 thousand MW potential of hydropower, our country is second only DRCongo in this regard. Our government has decided to exploit this abundant resource of energy.”