Project ID: 34447

ICBC provides $420.75 million buyer’s credit loan for 1870MW Gilgel Gibe III Hydropower Project (Linked to Project ID#59363)

Commitment amount

$ 585989858.236268

Adjusted commitment amount

$ 585989858.24

Constant 2021 USD


Funding agency [Type]

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) [State-owned Commercial Bank]




Energy (Code: 230)

Flow type


Level of public liability

Central government-guaranteed debt

Financial distress






Mixed (The next section lists the possible statuses.)





Financial Flow Classification

OOF-like (The next section lists the possible statuses.)

Official Development Assistance

Other Official Flows

Vague (Official Finance)

Flows categorized based on OECD-DAC guidelines

Project lifecycle


Completion (The next section lists the possible statuses.)










Actual start


Actual complete




On June 20, 2010, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) signed a $420,750,000 buyer’s credit loan agreement for the 1870MW Gilgel Gibe III Hydropower Project. The borrowing terms of the loan are as follows: a 14.5 year maturity, a 3 year grace period, and a 3.067% interest rate. The Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance issued a sovereign guarantee in support of the loan. The borrower also purchased buyer’s credit insurance from Sinosure. The borrower was expected to use the proceeds of the loan to finance 85% of the cost of a $495 million commercial contract between EEPCo and Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) for the electro-mechanical and hydraulic steel structure works component of the 1870MW Gilgel Gibe III Hydropower Project, which was signed in May 2010. According to the Government of Ethiopia’s Aid Management Platform (AMP), 15 loan disbursements (worth ETB 21,904,463,534) took place between 2012 and 2019: an ETB 1,102,591,696 disbursement on January 8, 2012, an ETB 1,256,266,119 disbursement on April 8, 2012, and an ETB 241,864,376 disbursement on October 10, 2012, an ETB 519,482,004 disbursement on April 8, 2013, an ETB 149,053,030 disbursement on October 7, 2013, an ETB 1,120,000,000 disbursement on October 7, 2014, an ETB 323,232,323 disbursement on January 7, 2015, an ETB 450,503,881 disbursement on October 7, 2015, an ETB 200,679,002 disbursement on January 7, 2016, an ETB 286,223,972 disbursement on April 7, 2016, an ETB 164,701,197 disbursement on July 7,, 2016, an ETB 1,359,428,420 disbursement on April 7, 2017, an ETB 116,911,052 disbursement on July 7, 2017, an ETB 1,045,494,392 disbursement on March 20, 2018, and an ETB 13,568,032,070 disbursement on September 9, 2019. The purpose of the project was to supply and install electrical and mechanical equipment (turbines) for the construction of the Gilgel Gibe III Dam (also known as the Gibe III Dam). The Gilgel Gibe III Dam is 610 m-long (2,000 ft) and 243 m (797 ft) high roller-compacted concrete dam. It withholds a reservoir with a capacity of 14.7 km3 (3.5 cu mi) and a surface area of 210 km2 (81 sq mi), collecting with a catchment area of 34,150 km2 (13,190 sq mi). The reservoir's live (active or ‘useful’) storage is 11.75 km3 (2.82 cu mi) and dead storage 2.95 km3 (0.71 cu mi). The normal operating level of the reservoir is 892 m (2,927 ft) above sea level with a maximum of 893 m (2,930 ft) and minimum of 800 m (2,600 ft). The dam's spillway is 108 m (354 ft) long and floodgate-controlled with a maximum discharge capacity of 18,000 m3/s (640,000 cu ft/s). Water above 873 m (2,864 ft) above sea level can be discharged through its gates. Feeding the dam's power house are two penstocks that each branch into five separate tunnels for each individual turbine. The power house contains ten 187 MW generators supported by Francis turbines for a total installed capacity of 1,870 MW. DEC was responsible for the electro-mechanical and hydraulic steel structure works component of the project. Salini Costruttori S.p.A.(SPA), an Italian contractor, completed the civil engineering construction of the project. The electro-mechanical portion of the project involved the design; build; site testing and commission of 10 vertical type hydraulic turbines; 10 vertical axis synchronous generators; and other transformer-related tasks. The hydro mechanical portion included the installation of steel structures; gates; a draft tube; a diversion tunnel; a spillway and ecological discharge gates. The construction of the Gibe III dam began in July 2006 along the Omo River but the project provoked a backlash from environmental activists. The African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank were originally supposed to fund the electro-mechanical costs for the project, but they eventually backed out due to the project's perceived negative environmental and social impacts. In August 2015, Ethiopia commissioned the first phase of electricity generation at the Gibe III plant from three turbines with an output of 561MW. Then, on December 17, 2016, the Gibe III dam was officially inaugurated. The plant has 10 turbines each with a capacity of 187MW equaling a total capacity of 1,870MW, increasing Ethiopia's total electricity output to 4,238 megawatts. This project also reportedly created more than 7,000 jobs. There are some indications that the ICBC loan for the 1870MW Gilgel Gibe III Hydropower Project may have financially underperformed vis-a-vis the original expectations of the lender. According to the Government of Ethiopia’s Aid Management Platform, as of September 2019, ICBC suspended about $67 million worth of loan disbursements 'due to [the] cross-default situation of the country’ (see Project ID#58616). Then, after considerable delay, the G20 Common Framework (CF) creditor committee for Ethiopia convened in September 2021, with the French Government and the Chinese Government serving as co-chairs. The CF debt rescheduling talks were still ongoing in mid-2023.

Additional details

1. Some sources identify China Eximbank as the lender (funding agency), but this is incorrect. China Eximbank financed the Gibe III-Addis Ababa Power Transmission Lines and Substations Project (as captured via Project ID#59363 and #59365), which may be the source of the confusion. 2. Some sources identify the project as a commercial loan, but based on OECD standards, the grant element of the loan exceeds 25%, so AidData has coded it as a concessional loan. 3. This project is also known as the Gibe III 10 X 187MW Hydropower Station Construction Project and the Gibe III Hydroelectric Project. The Chinese project title is 吉贝Ⅲ水电站 or 吉布3水电站. 4. Some sources suggest that the face value of the loan was $470 million and it was co-financed with Standard Bank. This issue warrants further investigation. 5. The total cost of the project was $1.75 billion. However, ICBC only financed 85% of the total cost of one component of the project (the electro-mechanical and hydraulic steel structure works component). 6. The system identification number for this project in the Government of Ethiopia’s Aid Management Platform (AMP) is 87143123101610. 7. 1 Ethiopian Birr (ETB) was equal to 0.075 United States Dollars (USD) in June 2010, which implies that the 15 disbursements (worth ETB 21,904,463,534) recorded in the AMP were worth $1,642,834,765.05, which far exceeds the face value of the ICBC loan that was signed on June 20, 2010. This issue warrants further investigation. 8. EEPCo and National Bank of Ethiopia reportedly financed other components of the 1870MW Gilgel Gibe III Hydropower Project.

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Direct receiving agencies [Type]

Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) [State-owned Company]

Implementing agencies [Type]

Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) [State-owned Company]

Guarantee provider [Type]

Ethiopian Ministry of Finance [Government Agency]

Insurance provider [Type]

China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure) [State-owned Company]

Loan Details


15 years

Interest rate


Grace period

3 years

Grant element (OECD Grant-Equiv)


Bilateral loan

Export buyer's credit

Investment project loan