President Ahmed said the work would be handed over to "enhance the pace of the project" ©PA Images
President Ahmed said the work would be handed over to "enhance the pace of the project" ©PA Images

Ethiopia ousts state firm from 'iconic flagship' dam project

posted by Alex Daniel
30 August 2018

Ethiopia has ousted a state metals construction company from work on a $4bn dam project on the River Nile after construction delays.

The Government Communications Affairs Office confirmed it had cancelled its contract with state-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) for construction of the dam, and would award it to another company.

The project, called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), is set to become Africa's largest hydropower dam with a 6,450MW capacity upon completion. It has been touted as an “iconic flagship project” by president Abiy Ahmed.

But it is running well behind schedule, and has already missed its planned 2017 completion date. The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy said two initial turbines which were due to start generating power this year may not be operational before until 2020. 

METEC, which is run by the country’s military, was singled out as the cause of the delay by Ahmed in a Saturday press conference, after being tasked with the project’s electromechanical work, including the turbines. 

He said the work would be handed over to “efficient contractors or companies” in an effort to “enhance the pace of the project”.

“GERD is not an ordinary project rather it's an iconic flagship project for all Ethiopians; its successful competition can be taken as a yardstick for the national project achievements,” he said.

“Let alone finalising the construction of the dam as per the schedule, the two turbines have not yet been installed.”

Italian firm Salini Impregilo remains the primary contractor, responsible for the project’s civil engineering. Ahmed said Salini's side of the project was “in good progress”.

Ahmed has overseen significant reform in the country since his election earlier this year, making peace with long-term enemy Eritrea and handing over state-controlled parts of the economy to the private sector.

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