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Ethiopia is accelerating the pace of construction at the 184MW Gilgel Gibe hydroelectric project in Jimma. The project, which was started nine months ago at an estimated cost of over US$259M, is under construction by Italian and Spanish companies. Currently more than 1300 construction workers and technicians are involved in the work that includes a 9.2km long tunnel and impounding a 717M m3 reservoir.

Construction of the dam and tunnel is expected to be completed by 2002, and all stages of the project should be fully operational by 2004. Gilgel Gibe is expected to produce 45% of Ethiopia’s total power supply. Approximately US$40M has been spent on the project so far, including the already imported construction materials and equipment. The World and European investment banks have funded US$190M and US$46M dollars respectively, while Ethiopia is financing the balance.