Kenya's plans to build a new multipurpose dam that will cost $3 billion have taken a step forward after signing a deal with a British consortium that will carry out the construction.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Kenyan President William Ruto agreed on the release of funds for the construction of the High Grand Falls dam and other projects when they met last year at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. 

Once completed, the dam will be Africa’s second largest fresh water dam, after the Aswan dam in Egypt built along the Nile, and also the country’s second most expensive infrastructure project ever after the Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway.

The dam will provide water volume exceeding 5.6 billion cubic meters to irrigate about 400,000 acres of land while generating up to 1000 megawatts of hydropower.

The agreement to expedite the project was signed by National Irrigation Authority's (NIA) acting CEO Charles Muasya and the head of the GBM Consortium Ltd, Michael Short, allowing the British firm to undertake final project studies, the irrigation authority said in a statement. 

The agreement gives the British consortium permission to set up base in Kitui and Tharaka counties and begin preparations, including feasibility studies.

The consortium is required to conclude its preparations within six months, including the ground mapping and geological drilling, technical financial and economic feasibility, risk assessment and other analysis to determine the actual scope of works for the mega dam, the irrigation authority said.

A Public Private Partnership committee overseeing the project will then give its decision on the next steps for the dam's construction.

The High Grand Falls dam is one of the 100 mega dams earmarked for implementation under Ruto's administration.

(Editing by Seban Scaria