Facts, Travel

Largest Dams in Africa

A dam is an incredible feature, either natural or man-made, whose vastness retains even the largest bodies of water. The continent of Africa is home to some of the largest dams in the world, since the continent itself is home to some of the largest bodies of water. The Nile River, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and Lake Victoria, for example, are all a part of the beautiful continent.

With approximately 13% of the world’s dams being used to retain a water supply, African dams are even more important for this purpose. Southern Africa, especially, receives little rainfall, and water retained by dams makes up a significant portion of the water supply for African countries. So what are the largest dams in Africa?

The Top 6 Largest Dams in Africa:

6. Kariba Dam in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Kariba Dam in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Kariba Dam in Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Kariba Dam sits in the Zambezi River basin, between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The arch-shaped dam is 579 meters long and 128 meters high. When the dam was built in the 1950s, it was devastating to the local communities, who lived along the banks of the Zambezi River. But, when flood waters wiped out their communities, they were left with no choice but to move elsewhere, and watch as the dam was built on their old homes.

The area near the reservoir has since become home to several species of wildlife, thanks to protected wildlife preservation areas established because of the perfect conditions for a variety of ecosystems near the dam. The Zimbabwe region of the dam sees a wide influx of tourists, much for the observation of wildlife.

Unfortunately, delays in upgrading the dam have led to extreme loss of power generated by the dam. A recent report suggests that, if the dam isn’t upgraded quickly, it could collapse in just three years.

5. Akosombo Dam in Ghana

Akosombo dam in Ghana - Biggest Dams in Africa

Akosombo dam in Ghana

The Akosombo Dam was built in the 1960s, for the main purpose of providing hydroelectricity to Ghana. The country also hoped it would increase industrialization efforts in the area to reduce the country’s dependence on various exports. The project totaled $258 million, and the massive dam sprawls 2200 feet in length.

The dam created Lake Volta, which is known as the largest man-made lake in the world, based on its surface area, and the third-largest based on its volume. The flooding that created the reservoir impacted about 80,000 people who lived in the area.

The electricity from the dam has significantly increased industrialization, but the dam has had a negative impact on health and the environment of Ghana.

4. Tekeze Dam in Ethiopia

Tekeze Dam in Ethiopia

Tekeze Dam in Ethiopia – Image credit to yareda25 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

The Tekeze Dam is the same height as the Katse Arch Dam, mirroring the title of tallest dam in Africa. The dam stands along one of the tributaries of the Nile River and ended up being a $365 million project by the time of completion.

The dam has been extremely controversial with Ethiopian citizens, who worry about its environmental impact. Specifically, a concern lies in the sedimentary accumulation that will eventually cause erosion and reduce the water supply. However, Ethiopian officials are confident that the dam will continue to provide much-needed electricity to the area, which, prior to its construction, suffered severe power shortages.

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