In a bid to accelerate the pace of the construction of Ethiopia’s strategic dam, the country has contracted the services of two Chinese companies.
The Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) on signed on Tuesday 19 February a contract worth $40m with China Gezhouba Group Co., Ltd (CGGC). CGCG will henceforth handle the pre-commissioning activities at the dam, that is expected to be operational by 2020.
The EEP also signed a contract worth $113m with Voith Hydro Shanghai, that includes the electrical, mechanical, and various civil/structural works required to complete the construction of the generating station and spillways of GERD.
The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.
Last year, Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed cancelled the contract of a state-run military conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), to build the dam’s turbines.
Abiy said at the time that not a single turbine was operational more than seven years after the government awarded the contract to METEC.
The dam has also been a source of friction between Egypt and Ethiopia, as Egypt fears the project will reduce waters that run to its fields and reservoirs from the Nile river in Ethiopia’s highlands and via Sudan.
The country is determined to build GERD because fighting poverty is a matter of survival to its people while respecting the principles of posing no-significant harm and equitable use of transboundary resources.
Studies conducted for half a century have found out that the dam has many blessings to offer to both Sudan and Egypt – be it in reducing sedimentation at Roseries Dam and protecting frequent flooding in Sudan, increasing the water levels at Aswan High Dam, not to mention its impacts in ensuring regulated flow of water in the Nile course.
A Tripartite Infrastructure Fund that to deal with issues relating to the GERD was established in May last year, in addition to a resolution to regularise the summit of the leaders, to be held every six months alternately in the capitals of the three countries.