Africa is home to some of the world’s largest dams for the purpose of generating electricity from the power of water. While the world transitions to cleaner forms of power, dams have been a reliable source of electric energy for centuries or millennia—generating substantial amounts of electricity. Home to the Nile, Congo, and Niger Rivers, the abundance of water systems in Africa has resulted in a resurgence in the construction of massive dams to manage the supply of water distribution and generate hydroelectricity throughout the continent.
Three of the ten largest dams in Africa: GERD, Gilgel Gibe III, and Tekeze are found in Ethiopia. Previously known as the Millennium Dam, the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia has been under construction since 2011 and is set to become the biggest dam on the continent upon completion. The Gilgel Gibe III Dam located southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is a roller-compacted concrete dam and hydroelectric power plant built on the Omo River. With a height of 188 meters, the Tekezé Dam in Ethiopia is the tallest dam on the continent.
Located near the city of the same name in southern Egypt, the Aswan High Dam ranks as the continent’s second-largest dam. One of the two major dams on the Zambezi River, the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique is the largest hydropower plant in southern Africa. Comprised of two single dams, the Inga 1 (351 MW) and Inga II (1,424 MW) dams in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) currently operate at a combined capacity of 1,775 MW. Located between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Kariba dam, at 128 meters tall and 579 meters long, is the largest man-made dam in the world.
In terms of its size, with a length of 7km and height of up to 67 meters, the Merowe Dam in northern Sudan is the largest contemporary hydropower project in Africa by size. Located at the base of Lake Volta, the Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam in southeastern Ghana draws its hydropower from the world’s largest person-made lake in the world, with a surface area of 8,502 km2. Built on the Niger River in Nigeria, the Kainji Dam provides electricity to all of the west-African country’s major cities. EBR
|Ranking||Hydro Electric Plant, Country||Power Generation Capacity (MW)|
|1||Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopia||6,450|
|2||Aswan, High Dam, Egypt||2,100|
|3||Cahora Basa Dam, Mozambique||2,070|
|4||Gilgel Gibe III Dam, Ethiopia||1,870|
|5||Inga Dams, Democratic Republic of the Congo||1,775|
|6||The Kariba Dam, Zambia / Zimbabwe||1,626|
|7||Merowe Dam, Sudan||1,250|
|8||Tekeze Dam, Ethiopia||1,200|
|9||Akosombo Dam, Ghana||1,020|
|10||Kainji Dam, Nigeria||760|
11th Year • Oct 2022 • No. 111