The state of ongoing hydropower projects in Ethiopia

The state of ongoing hydropower projects in Ethiopia


By Andualem Sisay Gessesse – From wind to solar ad hydropower, the government of Ethiopia is currently undertaking several power projects. The Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), which is the state agency in charge of the construction of energy projects in the country, is undertaking construction of four hydropower, two geothermal, one wind farm and one waste to energy projects.

In addition, EEP has been also engaged in construction of several transmission lines and sub stations. Estimates show that Ethiopia has 50,000 megawatts of hydropower potential.

Currently Ethiopia gets 90% its total electricity from 14 hydropower generating plants with a total of installed capacity of almost 3,815 megawatts.

One of the biggest hydropower projects EEP has been managing is the Great Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), is completed around 68%, according to latest report of EEP. The project completion period is delayed because it was part of the job was awarded to metal Engineering Corporation (METEC), the military owned corrupt company whose former managers are now in prison.

From importing poor quality transformers to awarding same foreign companies without transparent auction process, METEC officials are reportedly embezzled over two billion dollars.

The construction of GERD, which is expected to generate 6,350 megawatts of electricity, was launched in 2011. Though believing the government performance figures has always been hard, the last September news bulletin of EEP stated that the total performance of work on GERD was 59.9% by the end of 2017/18.

It was planned to carryout 10.64% of work on the project in 20117/18. But 8.7% was carried out and this brought a total performance to 68% by the end of 2017/18, according to the news bulletin.

A few weeks ago, a report on the current status of GERD indicated that it may take up to additional four more years for the dam to start generating electricity.

Koysha Hydropower
The second hydropower project EEP is constructing is the Koysha Hydropower project located some 530 kilometers west of the capital, Addis Ababa. Koysha has an installed electricity generating capacity of 2,160 megawatts.

By September 2018, the overall performance of the project has reached at 21.33%. “Excavation and construction work on the spillway ad the power house has been undertaken. Some 897,916 cubic meter of excavation work has been carried out from the total two million cubic meter,” according to EEP’s report.

The report also indicated that erection of ten containers serviceable for the EEP employees and other 53 for the contractor’s (SaliniImpregilo of Italy) employees has been carried out.

In addition foundation excavation and concretion work is being undertaken. Work on stretching the 400 kilovolt transmission lines to Koysha Hydropower plant is to be undertaken.

Genale Dawa III hydropower
The Genale Dawa III hydropower of Ethiopia is the third project EEP is undertaking currently. It is a $451 million (2.57 billion birr) project. When completed it is expected to generate 254 megawatts.

Out of the total cost of Genale Dawa III project around 1.9 billion birr will be covered by the government of Ethiopia, while the remaining comes from external loan.

Currently close to 96% % of the overall project is completed. The civil work of the project has been carried out by Salini Impregilo.

Aba Samuel Hydropower
Located 27 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, Aba Samuel Hydropower plant is the fourth hydropower project EEP is undertaking rehabilitation. Though the power plant was built in 1941 with the support of the government of Italy, Aba Samuel hydropower was out of service.

The power plant has gone operational in 2016 after two years of maintenances and rehabilitation. Aba Samuel has a total power generation capacity of less than 7 megawatts. As part of its rehabilitation, EEP has replaced electro-mechanical materials and equipment.

About 700 Ethiopians and 150 expats were involved in the rehabilitation, which includes the dam ad powerhouse, according to EEP’s last September report. Power China Houdong Engineering Corporation of China is the company undertaking the rehabilitation, which cost a total of $20 million. Out of the total cost, the government of China has provided 75% while remaining is covered by Ethiopian government.

By September 2018, EEP has undertaken close 97% of the overall rehabilitation of the project.

Other than hydropower, Ethiopia is also generating 87 megawatts of electricity from three different diesel plants. There are also three different wind farms collectively generating 324 megawatts, and a geothermal plant generating 7.5 megawatts of electricity.

In my next article I will try to look into the status and updates related to solar, wind and geothermal projects, as well as the wasted millions of dollars ‘waste-to-energy’ project of Ethiopia, which I believe is one of the many fake investments undertaken in Ethiopia over the past two decades.