Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir formally opened 1,250-MW Merowe Dam on the Nile River March 3, calling it the project of the century and “the beginning of the end of poverty in Sudan.”
The start-up of two of Merowe’s 125-MW turbine-generators was attended by dignitaries from Arab states, as well as Chinese officials, and executives from European and Chinese companies involved in the project.
The opening of the controversial dam took place in a carnival atmosphere with confetti and music. Bashir sought to dismiss the importance of a decision of International Criminal Court in the Hague, which was expected to issue a warrant for Bashir’s arrest for alleged war crimes against rebel groups in Darfur.
Bashir announced a list of projects in the works, including more dams, highways, and more cultivation of wheat. He also announced a 25 to 30 percent reduction in electricity rates for the poor, industry, and agriculture.
The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development last year awarded a second loan of 15 million Kuwait dinars (US$52.5 million) to the government of Sudan to help complete Merowe. (HNN 9/2/08) The project began in 2003, financed about 40 percent by the government of Sudan and the rest given by Arab funds and long-term loans from the Chinese government, whose companies are building the dam.
The nine-kilometer-long Merowe Dam is to have ten 125-MW turbine-generators. The project is expected to reach full capacity by November.
Merowe’s contractor is SinoHydro Corp. of China. Chinese consortium CCMD is carrying out the bulk of the work on the dam. China International Water &Electric Corp. and China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corp. won a contract to build the project. Two Chinese firms also won a contract for hydro-mechanical works. Alstom of France is supplying electro-mechanical equipment. A contract was awarded to Harbin Power Engineering Co. of China to construct transmission lines and substations. Lahmeyer International performed design and construction management.