Africa’s tallest dam and biggest capacity are the words that describe Ethiopia’s dams currently under construction. For sure the country will be a land of many distinctions when the current crop of hydropower stations are completed in the years ahead.
The country is endowed by mountains and is the source of over 90 percent of the Nile’s water. These attributes give the country a potential of over 40,000MW of hydropower. The country has every intention to tap this potential if current developments are anything to go by starting with the recently completed Tekeze Dam. The dam holds the distinction of being the tallest Dam in Africa overtaking the Katse Arch Dam in Lesotho which previously carried that title.
Standing at 188metres the dam is located on the river that goes by the same name and is only 3 meteres taller than Katse Dam which is not much by any standards.
The dam was built by the Chinese National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corp and consists of the arch dam, construction of two river diversion tunnels, power waterways, an underground powerhouse containing four 75-MW Francis turbines, a 230-kV substation, and a 105-km transmission line to connect the project to the national grid at Mekele.
The country’s ambitious hydropower development plans also include the Gibe III dam and the Grand Renaissance Dam. The Gibe III will be the highest roller compacted concrete dam and will inject 1,870mw of power into the national grid while the Grand Renaissance will add 6000MW making it the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.
When all these dams are completed the country will shift from a deficiency to excess power capacity and will be able to export this to other East African countries