Ethiopia to Start Work on Nile Hydropower Plant, Meles Zenawi Says

Ethiopia blue nile falls

Bloomberg: Ethiopia will start work on a hydropower plant in its Nile basin within the next few weeks, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said.

The plant will be 40 kilometers from the Sudan border in Benishangul Gumuz region and generate 6,000 megawatts of power, Addis Ababa-based Fortune newspaper reported last month.

“We are planning to carry out a number of important projects, including a major project in the Nile basin,” Zenawi said today. “It will be inaugurated in the next few weeks.”

Burundi became the sixth nation to sign an agreement on usage from the Nile River last month, enabling ratification of an accord that may strip Egypt of its veto power over projects using water from world’s longest river.

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Ethiopia blue nile falls
Ethiopia blue nile falls

The Horn of Africa nation’s current generating capacity is 2,000 megawatts, according to state-owned monopoly provider Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. It has a potential hydropower capacity of 45,000 megawatts, the second-highest in Africa after the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the World Bank.

There are plans to export power to neighbors Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti. Ethiopia has faced criticism from international rights groups for ignoring environmental concerns over the under-construction 1,870 megawatts Gibe III project.

Africa’s second-most populous nation has suffered frequent power outages even as three power plants came online in the past two years. Demand for power is expected to increase by 32 percent annually, EEPCo said on Dec. 7, while generating capacity is planned to be at least 8,000 megawatts in 2015.

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To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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