The inauguration ceremony of the Gilgel Gibe II Hydroelectric Power Plant, south-west of Addis Abeba, completed in 2009 by the EPC contractor Salini Costruttori, was honoured by the presence of Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Franco Frattini and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as well as Ethiopian state’s highest authorities, including Foreign Minister Seyum Mesfin, and Energy MinisterAlemayehu Tegenu.
The new power plant will play a leading role in channelling Ethiopia’s development in three directions: providing clean, renewable energy; recovering fertile soil for farming; and improving the health, employment, and living conditions for the local communities.
As Minister Frattini remarked during the ceremony, “Italy has helped played an important role in this achievement which will give millions of Ethiopians access to electricity. It is an event that will change their lives – consider think that whoever has electricity means they are able to draw water using an electric pump, without having to drink polluted surface water.”
Salini commenced works in 2004 after the completion of the Gilgel Gibe I reservoir and hydroelectric power station. This cascade project together with Gibe III slated for2013, will become a flagship project of global and historic importance.
The power plant’s hydroelectric output will reach 1635 GW/h per year. National power will soar 50%, allowing 1,000,000 new users to be connected, and making a decisive contribution towards reaching the national goal of extending access to electric power to 20% of the population by 2010. When these new plants, including GG-III, are built and the system is up and running, the country’s energy potential will surpass all the power currently installed in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The project’s value is about € 500 million: Italy’s funding (59%) is added to the € 50 million (13%) credit from the European Investment Bank to finance the electromechanical supplies; the Ethiopian contribution amounts to at least € 103.5 million (28%).
The overall investment has also brought benefits to the local economy, given that this project provides income for more than 4,000 Ethiopian households: about € 15 million has been spent on salaries for local employees, € 33 million on local contractors, and € 30 million on other services and purchases made on site.
From 2004 to date, Salini Costruttori has made a concrete contribution to the territory’s social development, giving neighbouring villages clinics, roads and infrastructure they desperately needed.