Electricity production in Ethiopia is set to almost double thanks to the inauguration of the 1870MW  Gibe III project – the tallest hydroelectric dam in the country.

Built by Salini Impregilo and commissioned by Ethiopian Electric Power, the €1.5 billion project on the Omo River was inaugurated in mid December in a ceremony attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Eng Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopian Electric Power Chief Executive Azeb Asnake and Ethiopian Electric Power Chairman Debretsion Gebremichael. Salini Impregilo Chief Executive Pietro Salini, and General Manager International Operations Claudio Lautizi.

“This is a very special day for Salini Impregilo and in particular for me,” said Pietro Salini. “What was considered a dream – after years of hard work – has now become a reality.

“We are grateful to Ethiopian Electric Power and the Federal and Regional Governments for dealing with us as partners in development, and for trusting our capacity for completing Gibe III. Salini Impregilo is honoured to have given service both to them and to this great nation.

Gibe III will generate up to 6500GWh of electricity a year, increasing the country’s production capacity by at least 80%. It is an extension of a greater complex that includes two other hydroelectric dams: Gibe I and Gibe II.

These three dams, along with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built by Salini Impregilo, are the product of an ambitious programme by the country to arrive at a generation capacity of 40,000MW by 2035.

Gibe III is the first dam in Ethiopia to be built using roller-compacted concrete (RCC). Standing at 250m, it is the tallest of its kind in the world, Salini said. Its crest length is 630m.

The volume of concrete used to build the dam totalled 6.2 million cubic metres, two and a half times the amount of material used for the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The water reservoir created by the dam holds 15 billion cubic metres, equal to half the volume of Lake Tana, the largest in Ethiopia.