Construction of the Millennium Hydropower Plant, the biggest hydropower plant in Africa yet, officially launched on Saturday in Benishangul Gumuz regional state. The dam, which will be constructed on Nile River some 40km from the Sudanese border, is expected to be completed in four years time.
With a generating capacity of 5,250MW, the dam will be the largest artificial lake with a capacity of holding 63 billion cubic meter of water, twice the size of the largest natural lake in the country – Lake Tana. During the cornerstone laying ceremony, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that the country would be faced with the massive task of financing the project, which is projected to be around 80 billion birr.
Meles said that the dam would also benefit Sudan and Egypt by preventing flooding and providing for irrigation land. “On the basis of benefit from the project, Sudan and Egypt should cover 30 and 20 percent of the cost, respectively,” Meles said.
“However, due to absence of fairness in the system, Ethiopia is the only country bearing the costs”. As part of financing the project, a government bond dubbed “Millennium Bond” with a five percent interest rate is ready to be sold to the public, according to the Prime Minister.
Premier Meles called upon farmers, urban dwellers, investors and Ethiopians abroad to participate in the grand project by purchasing this bond. Salini Construction, which is currently undertaking the construction of Gibe III Hydropower Plant, will undertake the construction of the Millennium Hydropower Plant. This is the same company that built Gibe I, Gibe II and Tana Beles hydropower plants.