Gilgel Gibe III Dam to support growth and integration in the Horn of Africa
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
The Green Growth Strategy of Ethiopia is fully integrated with its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) which aims to comprehensively improve the living conditions of the people by reaching middle-income status by 2025 along with carbon-neutral growth. The five-year GTP, which ends next year, is being followed by GTP II. This, currently under preparation, will have similar targets, and be based on the same four pillars of the country’s Green Growth Strategy, its Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy, of which power is one of the main components. Indeed, the power strategy of the country is specifically based on combining economic growth efforts with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ethiopia has decided to focus on deploying renewable and clean power generation as a priority with expansion of hydropower generation as one of its major categories as it is endowed with 45,000 MW of hydro power potential.
The target of this power generation policy is to expand production of electricity from renewable energy for domestic and regional markets. Ethiopia believes the growth in different sectors and the impressive momentum of recent economic development that it has achieved can be sustained by the increasing generation of power and electricity. Electricity powers cities and is instrumental in almost all applications, from fuelling industrial activities to pumping water for irrigation and improving production and productivity in agriculture, still the major element in the country’s economy. Electricity, if it is not adequately scaled up to support development, also risks becoming a very real bottleneck to growth, as underlined in Ethiopia’s strategy documents. These also note that in order to support the level of economic development at an annual growth rate of more than 10% to which the government aspires, the country needs to expand power supplies at a rate of more than 14% per year. In terms of natural resources, Ethiopia has abundant resources to meet such demands. Apart from hydropower Ethiopia’s energy policy aims to harness geothermal and solar resources, all of which produce virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions, for delivering electricity to the country and to the region, are enormous.
One of the major hydroelectric power projects that will be completed in the coming June, is the Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectric project. At a height of 243 meters, Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectric dam is going to be the highest Roller Compacted Concrete dam in Africa and will nearly double the present electric power generation of the country with an installed capacity of 1870 MW. The power that Gilgel Gibe III will provide for Ethiopia’s internal development is paralleled by the benefits it will provide for regional countries as well. Gilgel Gibe III will also have multi-dimensional benefits by exporting energy to other countries in the region including Kenya and visibly contribute to realizing the integration of East Africa region and IGAD. A power transmission line connecting Ethiopia and Kenya is well underway. Gilgel Gibe III will also assist in the development of neighboring countries by providing cheap and clean electricity and sets example for other countries that green growth is right path for achieving sustainable development. It will thus contribute to the economic growth of the peoples in the region and encourage economic integration between them, with an annual energy production of 1870 MW. It will be an important element in the long term plans of Ethiopia to use its potential 45,000 megawatts to integrate the region through power links and expedite regional economic integration.
Last Saturday (December 27) during his state visit to Ethiopia, President Museveni, of Uganda and his delegation of Ministers and other high level officials and their Ethiopian counterparts visited the Gilgel Gibe III Dam. After the visit President Museveni said Ethiopia was exemplary in harnessing country’s resources towards sustainable development. He described Ethiopia’s natural topography as convenient for power generation and said this will help in is expanding power generation within the region. The President also noted that Ethiopia’s power connections with Kenya would enable Uganda to benefit and import energy from Ethiopia. Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, emphasized that Gilgel Gibe III would play a key role in realizing regional energy interconnections and mutual development among all the countries of the region. He noted that the Dam would not only bring regional econmic integration but it would also contribute significantly to strengthen people-to-people relations among the countries of the region and assist in bringing peace and stability to the Horn of Africa and East Africa.