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Khartoum’s Ethiopian hydro-power energy importation tests begin

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 16, 2012 (ADDIS ABAAB) -Ethiopia has started a test run of electricity supply to neighbouring Sudan, according to state power utility, Ethiopian Electric and Power Corporation (EEPCo).

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A member of the Karo tribe by the Omo river in Ethiopia. Three hydropower dams are planned - there are fears that the resulting scarcity could lead to violent conflict (Getty)

Head of EEPCo, Mihret Debeb, said that Ethiopia has been testing the power supply tests since the completion of the Ethiopia-Sudan transmission line.

The 230kV cross-border transmission line stretches for 296km from Ethiopia to Sudan.

Debeb said Sudan is now being provided with 100MW of electricity via the Gedaref-Galabat transmission line which will, in the long-term, enable Khartoum to replace its thermal power generating units with Ethiopia’s renewable and clean hydro-power generated energy.

According to Debeb, Sudanese president, Omar Al Bashir, will soon visit to Ethiopia to attend the project’s official inauguration ceremony.

Bashir is also expected to hold bilateral talks with Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

Financed by the World Bank, the US$41million power project has three sections: Bahir Dar-Gondar, 137.2km; Gondar-Shehedie, 122km; and Shehedie-Metema, 37km.

The final section of the project connects with a transmission line in the east Sudanese city of Gedaref, which joins the power grid of the two neighbouring countries.

The Ethiopia-Sudan Transmission Line Project will eventually link Ethiopia’s hydro-electric power source to the rest of East Africa via projects between Ethiopia-Kenya, Tanzania-Zambia-Kenya-Uganda and Ethiopia-Sudan-Egypt.

As part of the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), Ethiopia is aiming to boost its power production capacity from the current 3000MW to 10,000MW when the construction of a multi-billion dollar dam project on the Nile is completed by 2015.

The Nile dam project which will be Africa’s biggest has hydro electricity generation capacity of 6,000MW.

Ethiopia is considered among continent’s leading natural energy producer and has an estimated hydroelectric production capacity of 45,000MW.

In 2010 the ethnic rights organisation, Survival International described Ethiopia’s plans to build Africa’s largest hydro-electric dam as “atrocious,” claiming that it will displace 200,000 people. The Italian company responsible for the construction of the dam denied the claims.

In 2012 the New York-based Human Rights Watch claimed planned sugar plantations, which will be irrigated by the same Gibe III hydropower project could affect at least 200,000 people in the World Heritage Site, Omo Valley, and 300,000 people across the border in Kenya’s Lake Turkana region.

The UN has also voiced its concern about the project.

(ST)

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