The Economist has a look at Ethiopia's new 1870 MW Gibe III dam on the OMO river which has the capacity to double the country’s electricity output - Ethiopia opens Africa’s tallest and most controversial dam.
Dubbed “the water tower of Africa”, Ethiopia has long sought to harness the power of the rivers that tumble from its highlands. Flagship dam projects were central to the modernisation plans drawn up by the Italian administration of 1936-1941 and by the former emperor, Haile Selassie, in the 1960s. Gibe III is the latest in a series being built along the Omo River by the government, which is also constructing what will be the largest-ever dam in Africa when it opens, in theory, next year: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. Together these projects are intended to turn Ethiopia, which has scarce minerals but enormous hydropower potential, into a renewable-energy exporter. Gibe III alone is expected to generate as much electricity as currently produced by the whole of neighbouring Kenya, which has enthusiastically signed up to buy some of its power. The export earnings will help to plug Ethiopia’s gaping current-account deficit, while the cheap power will provide a timely fillip to its nascent manufacturing sector.