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The main Dam at the Kesem Kebena sugar irrigation project has successfully captured water. In the past four months the state owned Water Works Construction Enterprise (WWCE) was working around the clock to finish the project by the end of the rainy season and it now appears that it has accomplished its mission.
Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water and Energy, told Capital, the current water reserve that entered in the dam during the last weeks of August is enough to irrigate a 20,000hct sugarcane plantation located in Afar regional state 250Km east of Addis Ababa.
The dam that has a capacity to hold half a billion cubic meters of water is expected to be completely finished in the next few weeks, according to the minister.
“The current water is sufficient for the irrigation and we expect more water to enter in the dam as rain continues to fall during this time,” he explained.
Metrological forecasts predict rainfall in the northeast highlands of Amhara and part of Oromia to continue at a limited level.
The dam and irrigation project being carried out with 2.6 billion birr started close to seven years ago. The plan is to develop 20,000hct of land for irrigation at Kesem, Kebena and Bolhamo for a sugarcane plantation. From the total irrigated land 5,380hct is located in southern Kesem, and 4,430hct in north Kesem, 3,840 and 6,500hct in northern Kebena and Bolhamo respectively. Out of the total irrigated land, 10,000hct will be given to growers to cultivate the cane for the factory, which will be managed by the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation.
Construction of the sugar factory that is expected to be finalized in September 2013 will have 10,000 tons of cane crushing capacity per day. The corporation is currently constructing or under preparation to erect over ten new sugar factories at a cost of 80 billion birr before the end of the five year plan.
In order to make the Kesem Irrigation project more attractive, the Ministry office suggested incorporating the development of a hydropower plant system to utilize the flowing of water to the irrigated fields. The hydropower potential is dictated by downstream irrigation requirements.
According to experts the layout of the project will allow up to 15MW of power to be produced with only the additional cost being electromechanical equipments.
The Kesem Kebena Dam and Irrigation project was launched seven years ago to supply sugar cane for Metehara Sugar Factory, which is 40Km from the irrigation land. Now the corporation wants to build a new factory on the irrigated area. The state owned Water Works Design and Supervision Enterprise is the consultant. WWCE, which is under the ministry, also undertakes several governmental construction projects including other irrigation and water development projects.