The Gilgel-Gibe I Hydroelectric Power plant built at a cost of over two billion birr was inaugurated last Saturday at a colorful ceremony attended by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, government officials and invited members of international community.
The power plant, the largest in the country, has an installed capacity of 184 MW and was financed by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and Austria.
Some 307 expatriates from 32 various countries and 4,015 local personnel participated in the design, supervision and construction works.
The development of the plant involved large underground works that included more than 12 km of tunnel, underground powerhouse and a large asphalt faced rock fill dam.
Speaking on the occasion, Ato Mihret Debebe, general manager of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, said that during the last ten years the Corporation had undertaken the construction of Tis Abay and Fincha powerhouse units with an aggregate capacity of 107 MW and also rehabilitated other power stations which actually increased their generating power by 42 MW.
The general manager said that with the completion of the Tekeze, Gojeb and Gilgel Gibe II projects, which will have a combined capacity of 900 MW, the Corporation will be able to supply electricity to all rural towns by 2010
The hydroelectric power plant is located 250km south-west of Addis Ababa.
Gilgel-Gibe is a tributary of Gibe river where the confluence is situated about 80 km downstream from the project site. The river enables the power plant to generate on average 722 million kWh of electric energy annually, which would make considerable contribution to increasing the existing system.