Ethiopia opens 420 MW dam, plans power exports

Addis Ababa, May 5, 2010 – Ethiopia opened a dam on Wednesday it says will produce 420 MW of hydropower as part of efforts to beat energy shortages and become one of Africa’s only power exporters, its power utility said.
Power shortages are common in Africa and have hindered investment, even though the continent has abundant potential resources of solar, hydro, oil, gas, coal and geothermal power.
The new dam took five years to complete and cost about 370 million euros, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation said. The Italian government covered 220 million euros of the cost with Ethiopia paying the rest.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini attended the opening of the dam during an Africa tour. Italy’s Salini Costruttori led the construction of the dam.

The new dam brings the power-generating capacity in Africa’s second most populous country to almost 2,000 MW.

Ethiopia’s mines and energy minister, Alemayehu Tegen, told Reuters in November the country would complete interconnection infrastructure between Ethiopia and Sudan and Ethiopia and Djibouti by the end of 2010 and become a power exporter.

Ethiopia plans to spend $12 billion over 25 years to improve its power-generating capabilities. Alemayehu said in November Ethiopia would produce 15,000 MW of power within 10 years.

Outages have been common in Ethiopia for five years. The country rationed power for over five months this year with lights going off every second day, closing factories, hampering exports and fuelling a shortage of hard currency.

Ethiopia has five other hydropower dam projects being built, some funded by the World Ban.

Power demand in Africa will rise by 150,000 MW between 2007 and 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

Reuters

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