Ethiopia's controversial Gibe IV dam secures Italian ECA finance

(The Reporter, Addis Ababa, 12 March 2016) The long-awaited negotiation between Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) and the Italian construction company, Salini Costruttori, has been finalized enabling the latter to commence with the building of the 2,200MW Gibe IV hydropower plant. The two institutions are also expected to formally ink an agreement shortly... Sources told The Reporter an Italian financial institution identified as Servizi Assicuative del Commerce Estero (SACE) has agreed to finance the project estimated at EUR 1.5 billion... The other massive Omo River hydroelectric power project–the 1,800-megawatt Gibe III–that was highly challenged by right groups in connection with indigenous tribes living around Lake Turkana was completed only a few months ago and has now started generating power partially. Construction of that dam began in 2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopia’s own laws on environmental protection and procurement practices, and the national constitution. The project’s US$1.7 billion contract was awarded without competition to Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the project’s integrity. The Gibe III dam and expansion of large, irrigated plantations in the Lower Omo basin threatens the food security and local economies that support more than half a million people in southwest Ethiopia and along the shores of Kenya's Lake Turkana.