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Chinese loan for the Gibe III hydroelectric dam

On 16 May 2010, Ethiopia’s Capital newspaper reported that the Gibe III hydroelectric dam, now under construction in the middle basin of the Omo-Gibe River system, is to receive a long term loan of nearly half a billion USD from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.


It was also reported that the Dongfang Electric Machinery Corporation Ltd of China will take over electrical and hydro-mechanical work on the dam from Salini Construttori, the Italian Company which was awarded the construction contract in 2006.

The dam in now expected to be completed in 2013/14. At 240 metres in height, this will be the highest dam, and the second largest dam reservoir, in Africa. It will take Ethiopia’s electricity generating capacity to a level far exceeding domestic demand, allowing the country to become a significant exporter of electricity.

Like most big dams the world over, however, Gibe III comes with significant social and environmental costs, virtually all of which will be borne by the peoples of the lower Omo, whose livelihoods depend on the annual Omo flood, both for flood-retreat cultivation and dry season grazing. As yet there is no evidence of detailed and systematic planning to ensure that local livelihoods are not adversely affected by the dam.

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