LA PAZ – The Bolivian government signed a contract on Thursday with a Chinese consortium to build a 600 MW hydroelectric complex in the eastern province of Santa Cruz.
China’s Eximbank will provide financing for the $1 billion project.
Bolivian President Evo Morales traveled to Santa Cruz city to witness the signing of the contracts by the head of state electric company ENDE, Eduardo Paz, and a representative of the Rositas consortium, Jian Wang.
The principal partners in the consortium are China International Water & Electric and China Three Gorges Corporation, builder of the giant Three Gorges dam in the Asian nation.
Morales noted that the original idea for the Rositas plant dates back 50 years.
The complex, to be built in the town of Cabezas, will not only generate electricity but will also provide drinking water for area communities and water to irrigate 165,000 hectares (407,000 acres) of farmland.
Plans call for the construction of eight additional hydroelectric plants in Santa Cruz and the neighboring provinces of Cochabamba and Chuquisaca, Morales said.
The energy minister, Luis Sanchez, referred to the administration’s program for investing as much as $29 billion over the next nine years to make Bolivia “an energy center” of the Southern Cone region.
Bolivia’s long-term plan calls for boost electric-generating capacity to at least 8,000 MW, which would enable the country to begin exporting electricity.