Ethiopian born Sauidi Billionaire, Mohammed Al-Amoudi, pledged to contribute 1.5 Billion Birr(about USD 88 mln) to the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance dam project a few hours ago.
The dam project was officially launched on April 2, 2011 (then named ‘Grand Millennium dam’) on the Blue Nile River in North western Ethiopia, a few Kilometers from the Ethio– Sudan common border. The dam is designed to have an installed capacity of 5250 MW, which is threefold of the 1885.8 MW installed capacity of the 12 currently operational Hydro-power plants of the nation. The hydropower generation capacity of the plant will be equal to six middle size nuclear reactors and it is destined to supply several neighbouring countries.
However, it was clear from the start western countries and financial institutions wouldn’t finance the 78 billion birr (3.350 Bln Euros or 4.8 Bln USD) dam project, while the government is cash-strapped.
Thus, the Prime Minister officially requested for public contribution through gift and the purchase of bonds.
Sheik Mohammed Al-Amoudi gave the fundraising a boost today by pledging 1.5 Bln Birr today ‘for this year’. The Billionaire seems to hinting that he intends to contribute more in the coming years.
Sheik Mohammed Al-Amoudi, the father of 8, is ranked the 66th top Billionaire, with estimated net worth 12.3 Bln US Dollars, according to Forbes Magazine this year. Al Amoudi, born in Ethiopia, from a Saudi father and Ethiopian mother, moved to the Arabia in the 1960s where he made his fortune. Al-Amoudi started investing in Ethiopia, after 1991, following the downfall of the Marxist-military regime. By some accounts, Al-Amoudi’s investment accounted about 50% of the total Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) to the country between 1992-2002.
The dam project is expected to start delivering electricity in September 2014, when 2 turbine units (thus, 700 MW) become operational. Its completion is scheduled for September 2017.
The Economist claimed, citing unnamed sources, that China pledged a 1.8 Bln USD loan for the dam project. But the Ethiopian government says it has no plan to seek foreign finance so far. The project was awarded to Salini Costruttori. The latter is responsible for on for ‘the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC)’ components of the project, according to the contract it signed On Nov. 2010.
In a related news, the Nile waters issue will not be ‘addressed’ during Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s visit to Egypt scheduled for mid-September, according to an Egyptian news outlet. AlMasry Alyoum reported on Friday, Sept. 9 that:
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and several other Egyptian officials on 17 and 18 September, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has said, but the meeting will not address controversial Nile water issues.
Relations with Ethiopia were often tense under the former Egyptian regime and Zenawi’s visit is his first since the 25 January revolution.
A ministerial meeting for officials from both countries will preceed the official visit, said Mona Omar, assistant foreign minister for African Affairs. She said the visit is important as both countries work to restore confidence and will generate momentum for better, more developed relations of cooperation and understanding between them, she added.
An Egyptian-Ethiopian committee will examine several cooperation projects, particularly economic ventures, she said.
She added that the primary focus of the visit will be to bolster bilateral relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa. The ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation prepared the agenda for the meetings.
The tripartite committee of members from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia that will discuss Ethiopia’s Grand Millennium Dam has not yet convened, she added, saying that Egypt has already submitted the names of its experts who will participate A date has not yet been set for a committee meeting.
She also said that the Egyptian and Ethiopian foreign ministers will discuss the situation in Sudan and the famine in the Horn of Africa.
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