Gibe III is the first dam in Ethiopia to be built using roller-compacted concrete (RCC). It has a crest length of 630m and a height of 250m, which is said to be the tallest of its kind in the world. The volume of concrete used to build the dam totalled 6.2 million cubic metres and the reservoir holds 15 billion cubic metres, equal to half the volume of Ethiopia’ largest lake.
The Gibe III hydroelectric project has an installed capacity of 1,870MW - the same amount produced by two nuclear power plants - and will almost double the eastern African country’s electricity production. It will generate up to 6,500GWh of electricity a year, increasing the country’s production capacity by at least 80%.
The dam – which stands on the Omo River 450km southwest of the capital Addis Ababa - is the latest in a series being built by the country to harness its vast water supply.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn presided over the inaugural ceremony of the €1.5bn (£1.25bn) project.
“This is a very special day for Salini Impregilo and in particular for me,” said chief executive Pietro Salini in a speech. “What was considered a dream – after years of hard work – has now become a reality.
It is an extension of a complex that includes two other hydroelectric dams: Gibe I and Gibe II. These three dams, along with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built by Salini Impregilo, are the product of an ambitious programme by the country to arrive at a generation capacity of 40,000MW by 2035.
The project created jobs for a combined total of 20,000 Ethiopians during the various phases of its construction. Its complexity also called for international expertise, involving people from 32 countries.
Salini Impregilo has recently started work on another record-breaking dam, a 335m-tall rockfill dam for the Rogun hydro project in Tajikistan.