Ethiopia president launches construction of 460-MW Beles

Ethiopia President Girma Woldegiorgis formally launched construction January 20 of the 460-MW Beles hydroelectric project on the Beles River near Lake Tana in northwestern Ethiopia.

General Manager Mihret Debebe of Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. said the 6.6 billion birr (US$745.5 million) project is to be completed in 39 months. Construction already has begun by turnkey contractor Salini Costruttori SpA of Italy.

VA Tech Hydro signed a contract with Salini in 2006 to supply turbine-generators and other equipment for Beles. (HNN 5/19/06) The 70 million euro (US$89.5 million) contract includes four vertical Francis turbines, digital-type governors, generators, and electrical balance of plant.

The state-owned Ethiopian Herald quoted President Girma saying the project demonstrates the special attention the government gives to the development of hydropower to provide access to electricity. Mihret said Ethiopia currently is launching five hydro projects, which he called a first for Ethiopia and for Africa.

Salini also began construction in December at the 1,870-MW Gilgel Gibe 3 hydroelectric project in Ethiopia’s Omo-Gibe River Basin. (HNN 1/18/07)

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