Gibe III

Explains the history, capacity, and stakeholders involved with the Gibe III hydroelectric dam.

The Gibe III

Nate Olson

The Gibe III Dam is a hydropower project initiated by the Ethiopian government in July 2006. It is the third dam in this region, preceded by Gibe I and II. The $1.7 billion contract was given to Italian construction company Salini Impregilo. The dam is part of the Ethiopian project to reach an installed national capacity of 40,000 MW by 2035. Gibe III will have an installed capacity of 1,870 MW, which is an 80% increase to the country’s current generation capacity.

A secondary purpose of this dam is to control the flow of the river in the order to allow for irrigation along the river. The Ethiopian government initially proposed to convert surrounding land to sugarcane estates as part of the Growth and Transformation Plan, creating economic development through agricultural development. Given low population densities within the region, workers from the highlands are migrating to these lowlands to fill construction positions in the region, which is causing unrest and tension in the area (see OTuRN Briefing Note #1, Kamski (2016)).

The catchment area of the dam will contain 80.5% of the total basin flow. The total reservoir area will have a storage capacity of 2,240,000 m3 with a surface area of 200 km­2.

Salini Impregilo has, in accordance with company policy, been releasing periodic sustainability reports on the project. However, Salini Impreglio have been criticized for not covering the full spectrum of impacts that the dam has and is predicted to cause. The Ministry of Water and Energy of Ethiopia has no information on the Gibe III dam or its consequences shown on their website.

Ethiopia is planning to build two more dams, Gibe IV and V along the Omo River. The effects of two more dams on the river could exacerbate existing impacts of the Gibe III.

Gibe III


Salini Impregilo (2017). Gibe III. Available from; 

Progressive Digital Media Oil & Gas, Mining, Power, CleanTech and Renewable Energy News (Dec 29 2016). Available from: ProQuest "Gibe III Inaugurated in Ethiopia." Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

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