The project entails the construction of a 60-metre-high, 520-metre-long concrete dam wall, with rockfill and earthwork excavation works extending for up to four kilometres on either bank. Almost 50 international contractors applied in October to prequalify for the main civil works contract, which also covers the construction of spillways, water intakes, access roads and irrigation outlets. The cost of the civil works alone is estimated at $550 million, which is being funded by four Arab development agencies.

The dam will house 10 125-MW hydroelectric turbines and produce enough power to meet rising demand around Khartoum. Sudan, under the terms of an agreement signed with Egypt in 1959, is entitled to utilise 18,500 million cubic meters a year of water from the Nile. Total project costs are estimated at $1,000 million.

Hydroelectric power is the obvious solution to the country’s rising demand for electricity. Sudan’s largest power plant is the 274-MW Roseires dam, located on the Blue Nile, south of Khartoum. Plans are also understood to be under evaluation for a third dam on the Nile’s second cataract, which will add 300 MW to the country’s installed capacity (MEED 24:8:01).