Ethiopia to build hydropower dam along Nile river

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi speaks during an interview with Reuters in his Addis Ababa office November 22, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia will start building a major dam along the Nile River to generate hydro power to increase electricity production, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said late on Saturday.

The Horn of Africa nation aims to produce 15,000 megawatts (MW) of power within 10 years, part of a strategy to spend $12 billion over 25 years to improve the country’s power-generating capabilities.

“We are planning to carry out a number of important projects, including a major project on the Nile,” Meles told a press conference late on Saturday.

“The project will soon be inaugurated,” he said, referring to a dam Ethiopia intends to build in its western Benishangul region near the border with Sudan.

According to the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s plan for the 2010/2011 budget year, the agency says the dam would generate 5,000 MW upon completion in five to 10 years.

Outages have been common in Ethiopia for five years. The country rationed power for over five months last year with lights going off every second day, closing factories, hampering exports and fuelling a shortage of hard currency.

Ethiopia has five other hydropower dam projects being built, some funded by the World Bank.

Power demand in Africa will rise by 150,000 MW between 2007 and 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.