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Ethiopia Inaugurates Huge Gibe III Dam on the Omo River

Dec. 19, 2016 (EIRNS)—On Dec. 17 Ethiopia inaugurated Gibe III, the biggest hydroelectric dam in the country with an installed capacity of 1,870 Megawatts, virtually doubling the country’s electricity capacity. The civil engineering of the dam was conducted by the Italian company Salini Impregilo, and the electrical engineering was conducted by the Dong Fang Electricity Company of China, while China provided 60% of the financing through a loan. Located on the Omo River, it is the tallest of its kind in the world, and the the latest in a series of three dams (Gibe I and II, plus III being built by the country, at a cost of €1.5 billion, according to a press release by the Italian company.

The inauguration, with 2,000 guests, was presided over by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn; Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Eng Sileshi Bekele; Ethiopian Electric Power chief executive Azeb Asnake and chairman Debretsion Gebremichael; Salini Impregilo Chief Executive Pietro Salini; and Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia La Yifan.

"The power we get from Gibe III and other dams on the pipeline can enable the country to strengthen its capacity to connect with neighboring countries and generate income from the sector more than ever,"

the Prime Minister said during the inauguration.

Chinese Ambassador La Yifan said, "I certainly believe Gibe III is going to serve as the wind of industrialization of this country in order to create so many jobs." He continued, "only through this strategic planning and political determination, we could make sure that this country will make continuous achievement in achieving 2025 vision," according to the Ethiopian broadcasting company.

Salini’s chief executive Pietro Salini said,

"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. Salini Impregilo is honored to have given service both to them and to this great nation."

Gibe III will generate up to 6,500 GWh of electricity a year, increasing the country’s production capacity by at least 80%!

These three dams, along with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built by Salini Impregilo, are all part of Ethiopia’s program to achieve an installed capacity of 40,000 MW by 2035.

Gibe III is the first dam in Ethiopia to be built using roller-compacted concrete (RCC). Standing at 250 meters—with its crest length of 630 meters, it used a total of 6.2 million cubic meters of cement, which is two and a half times the amount of material used for the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The water reservoir created by the dam holds 15 billion cubic meters and has 10 Francis turbines with a combined capacity of 1,870 MW. Twenty thousand Ethiopians were employed during the various phases of its construction, which involved experts from 32 countries.

Gibe I, with an installed capacity of 184 megawatts, was finished in 2004; Gibe II has an installed capacity of 420 MW and was inaugurated in 2010. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River, which will become the 11th-largest in the world, with an installed capacity of 6,000 MW, is currently more than 70% complete. Last March the government announced plans to build a new, 2,000-MW hydropower dam also on the Omo River.

All of Ethiopia’s hydro projects have been viciously attacked by the international environmentalist non-governmental organizations (a.k.ano good organizations). In August 2010, the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi vowed to complete Gibe III dam "at any cost" in the face of these attacks, saying about critics that "They don’t want to see developed Africa; they want us to remain undeveloped and backward to serve their tourists as a museum."

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