Construction of Ethiopia’s US $5bn Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) is now 71% complete according to Belachew Kasa, Project Deputy Director. The project which started in 2011 has faced various challenges including the regional dispute over the flow of river Nile, delays and also cancellation of the initial contract with METEC which is run by the Ethiopian Military.
However Mr. Kasa noted that the project has gained momentum over the last few months with steelworks currently at 35% complete, civil works are 87% complete while electro-mechanical works are 17% complete. “We hope to start filling water to the reservoir by June,” said Mr. Kasa.
Once complete, GERD will produce 6000MW of electricity using 30 turbines that will be installed. Kasa noted that the section where the turbines will sit is yet to be finished and it requires 200 million rolls of concrete slabs to raise the final height. In June once the reservoir is filled with water the giant tubes will deliver water through turbines 9 and 10 which will be propelled by a powerful water jet that will then ignite the hydro-power engines to produce electricity.
Meeting Ethiopia’s power needs
The power produced is expected to satisfy Ethiopia’s power needs as well as export the surplus to countries in Southern Africa and Western Europe. The Ethiopian government says the project is key for its economic development goals while on the other side Egypt fears the dam will affect the natural flow of River Nile which it also hugely depends on. However, the two countries are meeting to resolve the dispute after the United States of America stepped in for mediation talks.