Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the Omo River dam is not an environmental hazard.
In his second press conference in as many months, one of the subjects Meles chose to address was criticism by international environmentalists of the construction of the latest of a series of hydroelectric power projects Ethiopia is building.
Reporting for the Amharic service, Meleskachew said that the prime minister told critics environmental approval of the dam comes from no less than the African Development Bank, whose environmental assessment of the environmental impact of the Gil Gil Gibe III dam being built on the Omo River established that the project poses no major environmental threat to the region.
Check out the bank’s web site, the prime minister told critics.
Environmentalists and some NGOs are asking the Ethiopian government to stop work on the dam claiming it threatens the survival of Africa's Lake Turkana, the largest permanent desert lake in the world.Some critics say work being performed for the government by the Italian firm Salini Costruttori started on Construction of Gibe III started in 2004 without an environmental and social impact assessment.
Critics are the U.S.-based International Rivers, Friends of Lake Turkana and well-known Kenyan anthropologist Richard Leakey, the former head of Kenya’s National Museums and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Leakey earlier told BBC the study done by the African Development Bank was "fatally flawed in terms of its logic, in terms of its thoroughness, in terms of its conclusions. And it looks like an inside job that has come up with the results that they were looking for to get the initial funding for this dam."
"...our electricity generation strategy is not only environmentally friendly as a whole, viewed from the point of view of Ethiopia, but it is also environmentally friendly from the Horn of Africa perspective. Because we expect to export electricity generated from renewable sources to countries which do not have such sources."
Meles has previously stated that Gibe III will generate 1800 megawatts of electricity, more than double the country's current generating capacity. The surplus, he added, would be sold to its neighbors, including Djibouti, Yemen, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, for an estimated $407 million per year.