Ethiopian Hydropower Projects Kick Off

By Tesfa Mogessie
The construction of the two projects, which have had their feasibility studies completed, are expected to begin in 2017

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) is set to erect two hydro-electric dams on the Genale-Dawa and Dabus rivers. Upon completion, they will have a 672mw combined energy generation capacity. This will be a sizeable contribution to the existing 5,000mw circulating in the national grid, and come at the cost of close to 1.1 billion birr.

For the Genale-Dawa River, this is not the first dam. With a total project cost of 451 million birr secured from the Chinese Exim bank, 80pc of the Genale Dawa III dam project is now completed.

The new Genale Dawa dam, Genale Dawa VI, is planned to generate 248mw, while the remaining 424mw will be generated from the Dabus river – a north-flowing tributary of the Abay River in southwestern Ethiopia.

“The projects will be completed within four years, beginning in 2017,” said Miskir Negash, EEP communications director.

For that selection of contractors has started. At this point evaluation of pre-qualified construction companies is nearly finalized.

Genale-Dawa, a perennial 858km long river, extends across Ethiopia and Somalia, with approximately half of its total length running through the mountainous typology in Bale. Following the Abay and Wabi Shebele rivers, Genale Dawa has the third largest catchment area, 74kmsq, with an annual discharge of six billion cubic metres. It has an estimated hydro-power potential of 9,300gwh a year, and is expected to contribute around 5.8pc of the total estimated potential of the country.
The Genale-Dawa project will be constructed as an Asphalt Core Rock Fill Dam (ACCRAD), with a maximum dam height of 60m, crest length of 650m, spillway with side channel, and 16.5km of tunnels and underground powerhouse. As to the electromechanical works, it will be designed to have two vertical Francis Turbines of 125.4mw each. Application for prequalified bidders was made available in mid-May, with a deadline of May 18, 2016.

Included in the design is a 400kv, 75km long, transmission line. This will extend from the Genale-Dawa VI to the nearest substation at Genale-Dawa III, where the generated power will be channelled to the grid.

The Genale-Dawa III dam will regulate river flows to the downstream Genale-Dewa V project, worth 300 million birr, and the Genale-Dawa VI. This helps to ensure that the river is able to produce reliable power.


These two new projects will increase the country’s energy exports to neighbouring Kenya. The country will earn 76.6 million dollars and 73 million dollars from the Genale-Dawa VI dam, exported to Kenya, and the Upper Dabus dam, exported to Sudan, respectively. The country will earn this amount of money, according to the Doing Business Index 2016, when the cost of electricity is at five cents a kwh.

Last year, the government and China Electric Power Equipment & Technology (CEP) signed an agreement to construct the Ethiopia-Kenya Electric System Interconnection project. This power line will have a total length of 1,045km and a transmission capacity of 500Kv. The Ethiopian side of the project will be 433km long, and extend from Wolayta Sodo through Konso to the border of Kenya. It is being constructed with a loan secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB). When the entire project is completed, Ethiopia will earn an annual export revenue of 500 million dollars, while 870,000 Kenyan households will reap the benefits.
A 321km Ethio-Sudan Power Systems Interconnection was also inaugurated in December 2013, at a total cost of 35 million dollars. This will export power from the Upper Dabus Hydropower project, with a transmission line capacity of 100mw. This project is planned to bring 150 million dollars in foreign currency to the country on an annual basis.

Located in southern western Ethiopia, the Dabus river has a drainage area of 21,032 square kilometres. It is renamed Yabus when it reaches Sudan. The construction of this dam’s first powerhouse, which will produce 97.7mw, includes an ACCRAD with a height of 62m and crest length of 1,300m. Its 326.3mw second powerhouse will include 20m canal works. The prequalification application will end on June 30, 2016

These two projects are part of the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII), which scheduled to end in 2020.The government failed to materialise a plan of generating 32.6 million mwh, up from 7.6 million mwh in 2009/2010, by the end of the first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPI). There was also a plan to increase access to electricity to 75pc by the year 2014/2015, which also fell short, by 20pc.

In the year 2014/2015, the total electric power generated stood at approximately 9.5 million mwh, with an average 9.4pc increment each year. Out of this figure, 94.7pc was from hydropower, while the remaining came from wind and thermal sources. This was 29pc of the set target during the same year.


Written by PH

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