ETHIOPIA expects about 500,000 participants in mass athletics events that will be held on May 27, aimed at bolstering public support for a mega hydro dam being built on Blue Nile River, an Ethiopian official said on Wednesday.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built at a cost of $4.7bn and is expected to be Africa’s largest energy project when commissioned. Its construction started in April 2011 and is currently 66 percent complete.
Hailu Abraham, Public Relations Head at Office of Ethiopia National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of GERD, told Chinese news agency Xinhua the athletics events will be held in more than 100 cities and rural localities across Ethiopia.
‘In Addis Ababa alone we expect 90,000 participants, with the aim of the athletics events being to bolster public support and unity for the mega hydro project,’ he said.
Abraham said the athletics events will include 7 kms races, intended to commemorate the seven years since the GERD construction started.
Expected to be completed with entirely domestic funds, GERD has been billed as a landmark project signalling Ethiopia’s renaissance.
Already a high voltage electric transmission line built by State Grid of China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Co. Ltd (SGCC) at a cost of $1bn has been inaugurated waiting for GERD’s total commissioning.