Africa’s New Friend China Financing $9.3 Billion of Dams for Hydropower

A new report from International Rivers looks at Chinese financing of dams in Africa and its impact on rivers there and the people who live on them. From Bloomberg:

When completed in 2013, Gibe III on Ethiopia’s Omo River will be Africa’s tallest dam, a $2.2 billion project that conservationists say will deprive birds and hippos of vital habitat.

Some 600 miles (965 kilometers) to the north, Sudan is preparing to build the $705 million Kajbar dam on the Nile, which would inundate historic towns and tombs of the Nubian people, descendants of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The $729 million Bui project on the Black Volta River, to be finished in 2013, will boost Ghana’s hydropower capacity by a third — and flood a quarter of Bui National Park while displacing 2,600 people.

What these megaprojects have in common is Chinese money and know-how. Companies such as Sinohydro Corp. and Dongfang Electric Corp. are key players in their construction, and they’re financed by Chinese banks with support from the government in Beijing, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Sept. 12 issue.

The country’s engineering and manufacturing giants have recently completed or are participating in at least $9.3 billion of hydropower projects in Zambia, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and elsewhere on the continent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and International Rivers, a Berkeley, California-based environmental group.