ADDIS ABABA (Reuters – By Barry Malone) – Ethiopia has agreed deals with two Chinese firms to develop two huge hydropower projects and signed a preliminary agreement with another to construct two wind power farms, the country’s power utility said on Wednesday.
“We have signed two deals to increase our hydropower generating capabilities and one to explore wind potential,” a source at the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) told Reuters.
China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) will build the $408 million Genale Dawa 3 hydropower project in southern Ethiopia with the capacity to generate 254 MW of power, he said.
Sinohydro Corporation had also inked a deal to construct the $555 million Chemoga Yeda hydropower project that will be made up of five dams on five rivers.
EEPCo has also signed a preliminary agreement with the Hydrochina company for the construction of two wind farms, the spokesman said, adding that they would be reserved for emergencies and would be wholly financed by the Chinese government.
China has displaced many western countries as the major investor in Africa, where it has pumped billions of dollars to secure access to Africa’s commodities which it needs for its industries.
Ethiopia already has five hydropower dam projects under construction, some funded by the World Bank. Officials say it will become a net power exporter within 10 years, exporting to Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti.
Ethiopia has suffered power shortages for over five months with lights going off every second day. The shortages are easing but Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said they have hampered exports and fuelled a hard currency shortage.
Ethiopia’s government says it will spend $12 billion over 25 years to improve its power-generating capabilities.