Grand Renaissance Dam signs $200m deals to fix its faults

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has signed two deals worth $200m to get work on the Grand Renaissance Dam back on track, according to Addis Ababan newspaper The Reporter.

One, worth $80m, is with German hydropower engineer Voith, and will provide the dam with six of its 16 turbines, as well as all the associated installation and commissioning works. The turbines will be supplied by the company’s Shanghai subsidiary.

An agreement to supply another six has already been concluded with Franco-American company GE Alstom.

The second contract, worth $120m, is with the Power Construction Corporation of China, and will cover part of the dam’s steel structure. The agreement envisages Power China completing its work by the end of June 2020 with a view to commissioning the project by the end of 2022.

Tang Xu, Voith deputy president, exchanges contracts with Abraham Belay, head of EEP (EEP)

The dam, one of the largest and most controversial infrastructure projects in modern African history, was to have been completed in 2017. This was put back by defects in electro-mechanical work carried out by the army-controlled conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation (Metec), which was awarded a $853m contract in 2011.

In August last year the Ethiopian government fired Metec over delays, and in November police arrested 28 people associated with the company, including a former director general, on charges of malfeasance.

Sileshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, said last month that the dam’s steel structure is about 25% complete. The civil engineering work, being undertaken by Italian contractor Salini Impregilo, is more than 80% finished.

The government of Ethiopia is planning to begin generating electricity before 2022. Construction Review magazine quotes Sileshi as saying two turbines would be operational by December 2020, generating 750MW.

Image: Work under way on the dam (Jacey Fortin/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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