Merowe Dam Sudan



Chinese companies became established in the Sudan in the 1980's. They are principally involved in the oil business and recently the China International Water & Electricity Corporation has begun construction of the Merowe dam. One of the world’s largest projects began here in the vast Baiyuda Desert in 2003 with the aim of tripling Sudan's power generating capacity. The project is valued at 1.73 billion dollars and was financed in part from Arabic development funds  (Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, Kuwait). The Chinese firm is the main contractor on the dam, along with the French company Alstom, and the German firm Lahmeyer. The project is expected to produce 1250 MW when it becomes operational in 2008.

The Merowe dam is nearly 10 km long and will hold back a 200 km2 lake, comparable to Lake Nasser and the Aswan dam built in 1971. The power generated will put an end to the country’s frequent power cuts and will stimulate the economy by opening up new agricultural lands. The idea for the dam came in 1929 from the British, and, its final implementation has had the effect of reducing Egyptian influence on the Treaty of the Nile Waters.

Located 450 km north of Khartoum on the banks of the Nile, the river has been diverted for the first phase of construction. The huge construction site is crowded with massive tower cranes brought here from China by container ship via Port Sudan. The construction materials, with the notable exception of cement from Egypt and the locally won aggregate, must then follow a tortuous road journey or else come on a railway dating from the colonial era. Transportation difficulties could add a year to the planned duration of the project.