Continuing its investment in power projects, Ethiopia inaugurated today (May 14, 2010) the Beles hydroelectric power generation plant, which cost a total of 7.1 billion birr (around 500 million USD).
The government has announced that it has completed the Beles project with out external borrowing. The new plant has power generation capacity of 460 MW generating power 25 percent of the water will be used for irrigating about 120,000 hectares of land and for fisheries.
Beles, which has four turbines each generating 115 MW, is built on Lake Tana. Currently only one turbine is operating, with the plant is expected to come fully on-line within two months.
The statim is the third hydroelectric plant that the East African nation inaugurated over the last past eight months. Tekeze and Gibe II, generating 300 MW and 420 MW respectively, recently started contributing to the national grid.
Meanwhile, not long after it was inaugurated a few month a go, Gibe II stopped generating power due to a geological problem.
The country spent around 4 billion birr (around 300 million USD) on Tekeze while out of the total investment of 480 million USD on Gibe II, 280 million USD was funded as a soft loan from Italy. The remaining cost of was covered by the Ethiopian government and the European Investment Bank.
In a related development, Gibe III, with around 35 percent complete, has secured funding this week from Chinese.
This week the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) awareded to hydraulics component of Gibe III project to China’s DEC. This part of the project is expected to cost 6.4 billion birr (around 470 million USD).
Gibe III, is believed to generate 1900 MW of electric power when it completed in 2013. Meanwhile, amid these investments the country has only been able to cover 35 percent of its territory is also experiencing power shortage at the moment.
It is believed that the inclusion of Beles to the national grid will put an end to the power rationing program, at least for a while. Government officials including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, frequently state that the shortage of power in Ethiopia is the result of the rapid growth that the country witnessed over the past five years.