ADB officials express commitment to finance Gibe IIIApril 6th, 2009
East Africa Forum - Mihret Debebe, general manager of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), told a press conference on Tuesday that after visiting the giant Gilgel Gibe III hydropower project, officials of the African Development Bank (ADB) expressed firm commitment to finance the project. The officials how visited the site of the project two weeks ago.
Gibe III, which will have an installed capacity of 1,870 MW, is the projected to be the second biggest hydro-electric project in Africa. It is one of the five massive hydro-power projects that EEPCo is undertaking. The total investment cost of Gibe III is estimated at 18 billion birr.
"Several international banks were interested to finance the project had it not been for the global credit crunch," Mihret said. The government of Ethiopia launched the project with its own resource two years ago and 31 percent of the civil work has been accomplished.
From the beginning, the project had faced fierce criticism from environmentalists who have been crying foul. The environmentalists called on international financers not to finance the project. EEPCo has undertaken a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and posted it on its website for 120 days for the public to comment on.
"The first thing the ADB officials did was to assess our impact assessment report. And they found out that it was a sound report. Just two weeks ago they were here and they expressed their commitment to finance the project," Mihret said.
Annoyed by the BBC documentary film titled "the Dam That Divides Ethiopians" and televised recently, Alemayehu Tegenu, the Minister of Mines and Energy, told reporters that the government of Ethiopia was comitted to eradicate poverty and part of this strategy was to empower Ethiopia.
"There is no development that harms the people. We have consulted the people who live in the Omo basin. There are people who have a hidden agenda. But whatever motive they have they will not distract us from expediting the speedy development program we have embarked on," Alemayehu said.
In a related news, EEPCo announced that it had started a power shedding program all over the nation. Unable to meet the growing demand for electric power, EEPCo said there will be power outage six days a month for fourteen hours. The corporation said there will be periodic power interruption from 9:00 up to 10:00 six days a month. The corporation said the power deficit has reached 160 MW at peak hours. The country’s total generation capacity is 814 MW. The corporation attributed the power shortage to the fast growing investment projects in the nation and the delay encountered in two (Gibe II and Tekeze) of the five dams under construction.