Senior ministers at the Ministry of Water & Energy (MoWE)
are planning to carryout feasibility studies on
three additional hydropower plants to be built in
the basin of the Abay (Blue Nile) River, whose
combined power generation capacity is projected to
be larger than the Grand Renaissance Dam, Fortune
The cost of the feasibility studies on the
technical, environmental, and social impacts of the
dams will be covered with a 20.1 million-dollar
grant secured from the government of Norway.
Asfaw Dingamo, former minister of Water Resources,
had signed the grant agreement with Tom Odegaard, in
Hydroelectric power plants planned in Mendaia, Beko
Abo, and Kara Dodi, will collectively have 300MW
more power than the Grand Renaissance Dam’s 5,250MW,
a capacity the dam is believed to have when the
Italian Salini Construttori completes construction
in the second quarter of 2017. It will be the
largest hydropower plant on the continent, with 15
generating units, each producing 350MW of electric
power, a capacity currently generated by Koka and
Tekeze dams combined.
The Grand Renaissance Dam also symbolises the
nation’s determination to build the largest dam ever
with its own resources, according to Prime Minister
“The other dams we plan to build are less
challenging than this,” he had said during his
address at the launching of the project in Guba,
Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, on April 2, 2011.
Indeed, he was referring to hydropower projects on
the drawing board such as Beko Abo (2,100MW),
located two kilometres upstream of Nekemt Bridge;
Mendaia (2,000MW), located seven kilometres upstream
on the Abay River and Dedessa River confluence; and
Kara Dodi (1,600MW), located 70km upstream from the
However, the actual generation capacity of each dam
will have to be determined after the feasibility
studies are complete.
“Their capacities might increase or otherwise,” a
hydraulic expert at the Ministry told Fortune.
Mendaia and Beko Abo projects are expected to be
roller compacted concrete (RCC) dams, with 200 metre
and 285 metre heights, making the latter the highest
of its type in the world, each having an annual
energy output of over 12,000 GWh a year.
The prefeasibility studies on Mendaia and Bako Abo
projects were conducted by a consortium of
consultants from Norway (Norplan and Norconsult),
France (Electricite de France), and England (Scott
Wilson), as well as Shebelle Consult Plc and Tropics
Consulting Engineers, both domestic firms.
The report for the studies was approved by the
Ministry after reviewing reports from the
consultants, following consultation with the
Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation (EEPCo) and
other relevant stake holders, sources disclosed.
The prefeasibility study includes hydrology studies,
topography surveys, and geotechnical foundation and
environmental studies. Aside from hydropower
generation, the projects also aim to be
multipurpose, providing improvements in flood
control and conservation.
“The Ministry approved the projects, confirming
their economic and technical viability, as eligible
for a final feasibility study,” a senior official at
the Ministry told Fortune.
Studies on economic and social viability were
carried out by foreign consultant: Halcrow and
Generation Integrated Rural Development (GIRD). It
was during these studies that a helicopter crashed
in the Abay Gorge, after it collided with a cable en
route from Gojam to Wellega; no harm was reported.
The aforementioned consortium has been given the job
of conducting the feasibility studies. They are
allowed to take about six months to complete them,
according to the senior official at the Ministry.
“If all of the studies are finalised within the
year, as planned, construction will start within the
coming few years,” he disclosed to Fortune.
The cost of building all three dams is yet to be
determined. Nonetheless, it may reach close to 75
billion Br, considering the 13 million Br average
cost per megawatt that the five most recent dams,
including the Grand Renaissance Dam, have consumed
in the past or are projected to.
“By the time we secure financing for their
construction, these projects will be ready to be
carried out within the five-year transformation
period,” said the senior official at the Ministry.
The Ministry is also commissioning economic
feasibility studies on the Tekeze River, for its
second dam, 903km north of Addis Abeba, and on the
Dedessa River, in Benishangul Gumuz, 386km from the
capital. The two projects will have an estimated
capacity of producing 450MW and 301MW, respectively.
The successful construction of these dams will
increase the nation’s hydroelectric power plants to
Currently, EEPCo generates 2,000MW of power, while
an additional 8,000MW is expected in the coming
three years; of which 97MW has already been added
after Fincha Amertinesh Dam, consuming 137.8 million
dollars, was inaugurated last month.