Ethiopia aims three hydro projects at export market

Ethiopia officials say they hope to generate millions of dollars in foreign currency by exporting excess electricity from three hydroelectric projects the nation is building at a cost of US$1.4 billion.

“By 2010, the construction of the Tekeze hydropower dam with a capacity of 300 MW, Gilgel Gibe 2 with a capacity of 420 MW, and Belesse (or Beles) hydropower dam with a capacity of 435 MW will be completed,” Sendeku Araya, spokesman for state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corp., said.

Sendeku said April 18 that construction of the dams is being funded by the Ethiopian government, as well as loans from the Italian government and the European Investment Bank.

“Ethiopia aims to export its excess electric power to neighboring Sudan, Djibouti, and Kenya and earn millions of dollars,” he said.

Tesfaye Batu, project manager for power line construction, said work on a US$68 million line linking Shehedi, Ethiopia, to Gedaref, Sudan, 194 kilometers away, is progressing well, with completion expected in 2010.

“When the project is completed, Ethiopia would earn US$30 million annually for the export of 200 MW of low-cost hydropower, to neighboring Sudan which is intended to replace the costly thermal generation which it is currently using,” Tesfaye said.

A 283-kilometer line to carry 40 MW from Ethiopia to Djibouti is expected to cost US$62 million, which the African Development Bank has agreed to fund, Bogale Feyissa, project manager for that line, said. Sendeku said plans to supply hydropower to Kenya are under discussion.

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