Following a year’s wait for sufficient rainfall, the Ethiopian government proudly opened the Tekeze Dam on Saturday, delivering 75 megawatts of power to the nation from one of the dam’s four generators. At full power, the 4-billion-birr million dam will deliver 300 megawatts of power to a nation plagued for several months by power blackouts.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi paid tribute during the ceremony to 47 workers who have died during the 10-year construction project and pointed out that the dam was completely financed by the Ethiopian national budget. Others who spoke included Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation chief executive officer Miheret Debebe and the chief of the Tigray region, the northern state where the dam is located. Miheret said Tekeze will produce one-third of the nation’s energy needs.
Others who attended were China’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Gu Xiaojie, and Rober Meece, the charge d’affaires from the U.S. embassy. The 188-meter tall dam and the highest arch dam in Africa was paid for by the Ethiopian government and built by joint ventures of Chinese contractors and a joint U.S.-Serbian consulting joint venture of consultants. Girmay Gebru reported for the Amharic and Tigrigna services.