Africa

Ethiopia contracts Chinese companies to complete Nile dam construction

In a bid to accelerate the pace of the construction of Ethiopia’s strategic dam, the country has contracted the services of two Chinese companies.

The Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) on Tuesday signed a contract worth $40m with China Gezhouba Group Co. Ltd (CGGC). CGCG will henceforth handle the pre-commissioning activities at the dam – that is expected to be operational by 2020.

 ‘‘CGGC is expected to work aggressively in partnership with other companies in order to complete the project as per schedule,’‘ EEP’s CEO Abraham Belay said.

EEP also signed a contract worth $113m with Voith Hydro Shanghai, that includes the electrical, mechanical, and various civil/structural works required to complete the construction of the generating station and spillways of GERD.

A long overdue project

The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Last year, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed cancelled the contract of a state-run military conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), to build the dam’s turbines.

Abiy said at the time that not a single turbine was operational, more than seven years after the government had awarded the contract to METEC.

The dam has also been a source of constant friction between Egypt and Ethiopia’s competing energy and water interests respectively.

Egypt fears the project will reduce waters that run to its fields and reservoirs from the Nile river in Ethiopia’s highlands and via Sudan.

A Tripartite Infrastructure Fund that to deal with issues relating to the GERD was established in May last year, in addition to a resolution to regularise the summit of the leaders, to be held every six months alternately in the capitals of the three countries.

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