Ethiopia seeks more environmental, social studies for 1,870-MW Gibe 3

The European Investment Bank (EIB) predicts it will seek bids soon for additional environmental and social impact assessments of the 1,870-MW Gibe 3 hydroelectric project being built on Ethiopia’s Omo River.

Salini Costruttori SpA of Italy is building Gibe 3 (previously called Gilgel Gibe 3) under an engineering-procurement-construction contract with Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. It took bids in November 2009 for five lots of equipment including turbine-generators for the project. (HydroWorld 8/31/09)

The US$1.75 billion project, 240 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa, includes a 240-meter-tall rockfill dam, tunnel, distribution and water diversion works, and a powerhouse. Gibe 3 is the third project to be built by Salini in the Omo-Gibe Basin, following 184-MW Gilgel Gibe and 420-MW Gilgel Gibe 2.

EIB pre-qualified consultants in 2009 to review previous work on environmental and social aspects of Gibe 3 and to address areas that had not been covered sufficiently. It said an important element of the study is the downstream and cross-border environmental and social impacts of Gibe 3 on the Lower Omo Delta and Lake Turkana. (HydroWorld 8/13/09)

The latest solicitation, expected in about a month, is to include an environmental and social impact assessment of Lake Turkana to which the Omo River is a main tributary. Work also is to include a cumulative impact assessment to determine the magnitude of the effects of construction and operation of the Omo River hydroelectric cascade.

The contractor also is to integrate findings of various individual studies of the environmental and social effects of Gibe 3. A community development program study also is to identify areas to enhance livelihoods of people in the area.

The studies, which are expected to cost 1.3 million euros (US$1.7 million), are part of a fact finding exercise to guide if and how to finance the project.

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