Facts, Travel

Largest Dams in Africa

3. Aswan Dam in Egypt

Aswan Dam in Egypt - Longest Dams in Africa

Satellite image of the Aswan Dam in Egypt

The Aswan Dam, also known as the Aswan High Dam, of Egypt was completed in 1970. It stretches over two miles long and was completed at a cost of $1 billion. The reservoir can hold a massive 132 cubic kilometers of water, and was mainly built with the purpose of controlling flood waters, which were previously a significant problem for Egypt.

Since then, the dam has played a pivotal role in Egypt’s economy, not only controlling water from severe rainfall, but also lending to the country’s irrigation system and electricity supply with hydroelectric power. Additionally, flood control from the dam allowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land to be opened up to cultivation, and proper irrigation helped desert lands become the new home of healthy crops.

However, completion of the dam has also created sediment accumulation in the reservoir, which is lowering its overall water capacity. The dam has also blocked some of the nutrients that flowed down the Nile, which has led to a decrease in fishing opportunities.

2. Katse Arch Dam in Lesotho

Katse Arch Dam in Lesotho

Katse Arch Dam in Lesotho – Image credit to SkyPixels (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]

The Katse Arch Dam is one of the highest in Africa, at 185 meters, and is the second largest African dam. The dam’s construction was completed in 1996 as part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, to give the country a continuous water supply with the added benefit of hydroelectricity. The project also helps Lesotho gain income from providing steady water supplies to surrounding provinces.

Construction for the dam isn’t quite over, with future phases planned to increase the capacity of water in the reservoir. Some worry about future environmental impact of the dam, as it has already displaced several natural wildlife habitats, in addition to thousands of citizen’s homes in the area.

1. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia - Largest Dams in Africa

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia – By Rasta55 [CC BY-SA 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Formerly known as the Millenium Dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is not even fully completed, yet is set to be the largest African dams. The dam sits along the Blue Nile River of Ethiopia, and its construction is expected to culminate in mid-2017. The dam is expected to reach a length of about 1800 meters and 155 meters in height.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has caused some controversy between the countries of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The countries are concerned over the impact the dam will have on their water supply. However, operations continue to construct the dam, despite especially strained relations between Ethiopia and Egypt since the construction of the dam began in 2011.

Political leaders in Egypt have continued to try to cease construction of the dam, and have threatened not to financially support the construction and upkeep. But, once the dam is complete, it will provide hydroelectric power to Ethiopia and its neighbors, which could benefit Egypt long-term.

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