Ethiopia: Kessem Irrigation Dam Nears Completion

The Kessem irrigation dam, bearing the same name with a sugar development project, is nearing completion, said Federal Water Works Design and Supervision Enterprise.

The irrigation dam, which will have the capacity to develop 20,000 hectares of land in Afar region of Ethiopia, is 99 percent complete, according to the consultant - Federal Water Works Design and Supervision Enterprise.

Located inside the rift valley region, the construction of the dam proved daunting with the contractor Federal Water Works Construction Enterprise facing geological challenges.

"Ethiopian experts have gained some practical and invaluable lessons from the project," said Getu Molla, resident engineer of the consultant.

The dam has so far consumed some 2.6 billion birr.

The dam, located in Awash Fentalle wereda, will have a reservoir capacity of half a billion cubic meters of water diverted from Kessem River, also known as Bulga River.

Project owners say the reservoir could also be used to provide clean water for the community as well as for fishery development.

The 720 meters wide and 90 meters tall dam is part of the Kessem Sugar Development Project which aims to cultivate 20,000 hectares of land with sugarcane plantations to feed the crushing plant.

The plant will have the capacity to crush 6,000 tons of cane per day (tcd) during the first phase of construction and will be upgraded to 10,000 tcd. The plant, which is being built by China Complant Group Inc, is expected to go operational in November 2014.

At full capacity, Kessem will have an annual sugar production capacity of 260,000 tons, 30,000 meter cube of ethanol and 26 MW of electricity (contributing 15 MW to the national grid).

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