Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Ethiopia launches new Omo River hydroelectric plant

Mursi woman
Some fear the dam could destroy traditional ways of life

A new hydroelectric plant has been inaugurated in Ethiopia - part of a controversial project on the Omo River.

Ethiopia hopes the cascade of dams will turn it from a country suffering crippling power cuts to a major electricity exporter.

But critics fear there will be consequences for the environment and for people living along the river.

The latest phase, Gilgel Gibe II, has the capacity to generate more than 400 megawatts of electricity.

The plant gets its water through an underground channel from the first Gilgel Gibe hydroelectric project, which is fed by the Omo River.

This is the second plant to be inaugurated in almost as many months.

And a few more projects are in the pipeline to ensure that the power shortages of last year never recur.

The next stage, Gilgel Gibe III, is expected to generate about 1,800MW of power.

Ethiopia's government wants the country to generate its own electricity and export it to the region.

The BBC's Uduak Amimo in Addis Ababa says Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan have already agreed to buy power from Ethiopia.

She says if all goes according to plan, electricity will overtake coffee as Ethiopia's biggest export within the next decade.


Choose a view:  
Ethiopia map of dam surroundings at present Ethiopia map with the dam built

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