ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and Webuild had to overcome several challenges to bring the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to the stage where power generation is possible, according to the CEO of the construction firm.
The Italian Firm Webuild, formerly known as Salini Impregilo, is responsible for the civil work of the mega-dam project located in Ethiopia’s western region of Benishangul-Gumuz.
The dam is now more than 84% complete, and has officially started generating power on Sunday in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other high level government officials.
“We faced a lot of difficulties together. This project does not come easily. There have been so many enemies. So many against it,” said Pietro Salini, Chief Executive Officer of Webuild.
The dam started producing 375 megawatts electricity using one of its turbines, signalling the beginning of the end for the construction project.
“There are days when your heart is so filled with joy that it is even difficult to speak… This project for us Ethiopians, as I feel myself, is not an ordinary project. It is not something that comes every day,” the CEO said.
The CEO further noted that “God has given to Ethiopia a special gift. No oil, no gas, (but) water. Water is the white oil of Ethiopia.”
Salini stated that he feels “honored and happy” for receiving the responsibility to fulfill the development dream of Ethiopia and engage in the construction of the mega dam.
“We are here in front of a success of a nation against all our enemies. We can now say the first step is done,” said the CEO.
Upon completion, the dam will have capacity to generate 15,760 GWh of energy a year with 13 turbines on average.
Featured Image Caption: CEO of Webuild, Salini speaking with the former prime minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn on Sunday [Photo PM Office]