Construction of Africa’s second largest freshwater dam to be launched soon

Construction of Africa’s second largest freshwater dam to be launched soon

The construction of High Grand Falls Dam, Africa’s second largest freshwater dam is set to be launched next month.

This was recently revealed by Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of EAC, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Peninah Malonza. The CS made the revelation during a relief food distribution drive in Kitui West Constituency. According to Malonza, the project will be launched by President William Ruto.

The revelation comes approximately 7 months following the signing of two agreements for the development of the project. One of the agreements was signed between the governments of Kenya and the United Kingdom represented by President William Ruto and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak respectively. The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of the climate conference COP27 that was held in Egypt.

The second agreement, the Project Development Agreement (PDA), on the other hand, was signed at Maji House in Nairobi, between the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) and a consortium led by GBM Engineering Consultants Ltd.

NIA is a government agency responsible for the provision of water for farming through the development, rehabilitation, modernization and promotion of irrigation and drainage for improved livelihoods, food security and economic growth in Kenya. GBM on the other hand is a UK-based independent firm of engineering consultants.

About Africa’s second-largest freshwater dam

High Grand Falls Dam is a multipurpose dam that is set for construction on a 165 square kilometre piece of land spread across Kitui, Tharaka-Nithi and Tana River counties.

With a proposed capacity of 5,600,000,000 cubic meters (2.0×1011 cu ft) of water, Africa’s second largest freshwater dam is meant to provide water supply, irriga­tion development, river regulation, flood control and power gen­eration. Other purposes the dam might serve include inter and intra-basin water transfers, fisheries and downstream ecosystem con­servation and sustainability.

The featured power station will be the largest hydroelectric power station in Kenya with a capacity to generate 693 megawatts (929,000 hp) of electricity. Currently, the largest hydroelectric power plant in Kenya is the 225 MW capacity Gitaru hydroelectric power plant built on the Tana River at the Embu and Machakos Counties border.

The High Grand Falls Hydroelectric Power Plant will have a total of 7 power generators and it will be delivered in phases. The first phase is set to have a generation capacity of 495 megawatts (664,000 hp). It is expected to come online in 2031. The second phase on the other hand is set to have a capacity of 198 megawatts (266,000 hp). The latter will come online in 2032.

Cost and funding for the High Grand Falls project

The High Grand Falls project will reportedly be carried out on a public-private partnership at a cost of approximately KSh425 billion. The British contractor, GBM Consortium Limited, will fund, design, build, own and operate the project for about 20 years to recover its investment before it transfers the ownership to the Kenyan government.

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