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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ethiopia opens 300 MW dam, starts producing 80 MW

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Ethiopia opened a dam on Saturday that it says will produce 300 MW of hydropower as part of efforts to overcome chronic energy shortages and become one of Africa's only power exporters, state media said.

Power shortages are common in Africa and have hindered investment, even though the continent has abundant potential resources of solar, hydro, oil, gas, coal and geothermal power.
The Tekeze Dam has started producing 80 MW and that will rise to 300 MW, state-run Ethiopian Television said. It did not say when the dam would reach full capacity.
The dam is on the country's Tekeze river and its $356 million cost was financed by the China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation.
At 185 metres, it is the tallest hydroelectric dam on the world's poorest continent.
Outages have been common in Ethiopia for five years. The country rationed power for over five months this year with lights going off every second day, closing factories, hampering exports and fuelling a shortage of hard currency.
Ethiopia has six other hydropower dam projects being built, some funded by the World Bank. Government officials say the Horn of Africa nation will become a net power exporter within 10 years, exporting to Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti.
The country in September agreed deals with another two Chinese firms, China Gezhouba Group Company and Sinohydro Corporation, to build two huge hydropower projects.
EEPCo has also signed a preliminary agreement with the Hydrochina company for the construction of two wind farms to be reserved for emergency power shortages.
China has displaced many western countries as the major investor in Africa, where it has pumped billions of dollars into securing access to Africa's commodities. Ethiopia says it will spend $12 billion over 25 years to improve its power supply. (Reporting by Barry Malone; Editing by Charles Dick)
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