Tesfaye Lemma 04-03-17
Many believe that April 2, 2017 is a special day for all Ethiopians residing at home and abroad. It was the day the people celebrated the 6th year founding anniversary of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. It was announced that Ethiopians in all corners of the country have been celebrating it with various activities over the past three weeks.
There is nothing that we can call insignificant when we talk about the contribution that one makes towards the completion of this grand project, because it belongs to all of us equally and it belongs to our children as well, not only to those who are born, but also to those not yet born. This is a generational bridge and there will be a sense of relaying a strong country to the future generation.
The dam, which all Ethiopians consider as their symbol of unity and identity is planned to cost about 4.7 billion USD. There is a national consensus in the country as for building the Grand Renaissance Dam is considered. In fact, there are some groups who have already betrayed their country and people who have been serving as an instrument for some terrorist groups and states in the region, but their number when compared with the one hu8ndred million population of the country is inconsiderable.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has its own peculiar history and political meanings that all Ethiopians at home and abroad could share. Its economic contribution is also so significant that it is one of the mega projects the Ethiopian government has designed so as to alleviate poverty.
Poverty alleviation is the major agenda in Ethiopia's context. The country has been striving to harness its natural resource particularly water for its struggle to make poverty a history, apart from its economic contribution.
It is so historical that Ethiopians were dreaming of using their huge water resource since time immemorial, but they failed to do so for various reasons. One basic retarding factor was financial constraint. Ethiopia had been engaged in a lengthy civil war and there was no room to develop the economy. Hence, its economy had been deteriorating from time to time that the people were in a position where they couldn't even win their daily bread.
The other detracting factor was the imposition of downstream countries. Former Egyptian leaders had been working unreservedly with convincing development partners and donors to restrain from funding any project on the Nile River. Despite their wish to harness their natural resources, Ethiopians couldn't find any development partners who could support them to build development projects.
In fact, there is also a lack of political commitment and diplomatic approach in the previous regimes that governments in Ethiopia were never considering neighboring countries as development partners rather as enemies and vice verse.
Incredibly, the entire political and socioeconomic situation of the country has changed since 1991. The country has managed to ensure its economic development and upgraded its diplomatic relations with all neighboring countries and other countries in the world except Eritrea. It ensured its internal peace and began playing a significant role in the region in particular and the continent in general. As a result, its diplomatic influences have also risen.
All the constraints that were retarding the country from coming up with a development project on the Nile River are almost resolved. Since, the past fifteen years, the country has projected its efforts to develop its natural resources, particularly rivers to alleviate poverty and ensure sustainable economic growth. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is the result of this intention.
The project has developed a sense of capability to build a number of such huge projects if all Ethiopians come together and work being handed in gloves. Cognizant of this, all Ethiopians have been cooperating in building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. It is known that the people have contributed about 9.6 billion Birr of the total 12.4 billion Birr, the promised amount when the project was launched.
The project will never stop even for a fraction of a second as it is fully owned by the people despite some concerns Egypt posed about the project. In fact, Ethiopia and Sudan have already established a genuine collaboration for a win-win approach. Egypt, with some retarding concerns, is following suit. However, the reality witnessed that there will not be any significant impact on the flow of the water due to the construction of the Dam.
When the construction of the Dam completes, the downstream countries will enjoy the benefits of the Dam. Firstly, they could benefit from purchasing electricity at cheaper prices to develop their industries. Secondly, downstream countries could also develop their irrigation system as the water flow to downstream countries will remain constant throughout the year, regardless of the seasons as the amount of water flowing to downstream countries significantly decrease in dry seasons. Thirdly, the completion of the dam will avoid flooding disasters that usually cause loss of lives and damage of property in Sudan and Egypt. Finally, Egypt and Sudan will get a better amount of water than they used to get, because the construction of the dam will reduce the amount of water wasted due to evaporation.
That is why Ethiopia has made vivid the Dam has a number of benefits to downstream countries, despite the foot-dragging Egypt has been shown so many times. The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is among the initiatives launched by the government to alleviate poverty, maintain sustainable economic development and enhance economic integration among riparian countries.
Therefore, the downstream countries could highly benefit if they honestly cooperate with Ethiopia. It is of paramount importance for downstream countries particularly Egypt to sense the reality and cooperate with Ethiopia for the realization of the actualization of the dam.
Apart its political and historical contributions, the Dam could contribute to the ever rising tourism sector that the country is striding along the way of growth and transformation. All these initiatives and ventures are a part of the overall new air of transformation and new development trajectory of the country.
Ethiopia has repeatedly guaranteed that the influence is insignificant, but that Ethiopia has the legitimate right to make full use of its natural potential now that it is harnessing its resources and financing its own projects without waiting for the green light of others who not always have a positive attitude towards what it does. But once the various infrastructure pieces related to the dam are complete, the dam’s construction is finished and inaugurated; once the water pouring to the dam is full.
The sense of unity and purpose that it has created among the Ethiopian masses has been compared to the one we normally share when an invasion against our sovereignty has been experienced. And the sense of achievement will be compared to the one we experienced our forefathers experience when they defeated the conquering enemies at various times.
The riparian countries will have the privilege to benefit from the cheap energy that the Dam produces and there are already plans to share it with them. The environmental advantages are also a point not to forget because soil erosion is avoided and the regulation of the river in its journey towards Sudan and Egypt is equally significant. Sudden flooding will not occur any more. Silt will also minimized thanks to this project.
New spirit, new energy, the sense of regret with which Ethiopians view all those years and months lost without making any significant use of the waters of one of the most symbolic rivers of our country is what millions of Ethiopians feel when they think of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
With the beginning of this project every Ethiopian feels that this is the time to put our fingerprints on the history of our country. This is the time, the occasion that we have been waiting for to express our say irrespective of the size or kind of contribution.
Hence, this is the time to look forward to the new door of opportunities that this grand project opens to our nation. It is not a simple, albeit big development project only.
It is much more than that. It is the personification of a new ‘spirit of unity’ and ‘sense of purpose and commitment as the Prime Minster has put it. It is obvious that this is an era of hope for Ethiopians. Following its completion, there will be hope that the country will get enough power to its industrial firms.
The people will also have adequate power to nurture for their future better lives, which could help the country to attain a sense of gratification and glory, a sense of achievement and accomplishment. That is why the people and government of Ethiopia are so committed to finalize it having paid any cost.