The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project Manager, Mr Simegnew Bekele, inspects the 40-km development at the border with Sudan March 31, 2015. The dam is expected to begin power generation this year. ANDUALEM SISAY | NATION MEDIA GROUP
A week ago, Egypt signed a tripartite agreement bringing aboard Sudan. The Ethiopian government says the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is being built on the Nile River, will be commissioned this year.
“At the early stage of the project phase, we are expecting to commence production of some 100 megawatts of electricity from the dam,” said Engineer Simegnew Bekele, Project Manager of GERD.
“As a country we have experience in building hydroelectric dams,” he said adding that 8,500 local employees and 400 expatriates from 25 countries are working day and night in order to realise the country’s goal of meeting its growing energy demand and export to other countries.
Currently Ethiopia is generating around 2,270 megawatts of electricity from different hydroelectric dams with a couple of wind and solar energy generating plants.
The dam that is going to be the biggest hydro electric dam in Africa and tenth in the world, has been facing strong opposition from Egypt.
A week ago, Egypt signed a tripartite agreement bringing aboard Sudan.
Among the ten points agreed on, Ethiopia can use the dam for power generation and export to Egypt.
GERD will have a total hydroelectric power generation capacity of 6,000 megawatts.
So far about half of the 145 meters height and 1,760 meters main dam is completed, according to Engineer Simegnew, who briefed foreign media at the construction site located 40 kilometres from the Ethiopia-Sudan border.
The construction began four years ago by the Italian company, Salini Impregilo. While Tractebel Engineering, a consulting joint venture from England, French and Italy, is undertaking the consulting, representing the government agency - Ethiopian Electric Power.
As the government has decided not to use external financing for the construction of the dam, the people and the country has been in aggressive fund raising since the launching of the project. “We are spending our hard earned money on this dam,” Engineer Simegnew said.
In addition to the main dam, a 5.2 kilometres length saddle dam is also under construction to maintain the water in the 74 billion cubic meter artificial lake, which also expected to serve for fishery.
Parallel to the dam, 500 kilovolt power transmission line, which takes the electric power from the dam to the national grid via Dedessa and Holleta towns, is also under construction.