The Ethiopian Ambassador to H.E. Ambassador Alemtsehay Meseret has revealed that the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is progressing very well with over 84 % of the work completed.
The GERD is the largest hydroelectric project in Africa currently being constructed on the Blue Nile River, which originates in Ethiopian highland, with a capacity of producing 5150 MW.
Ms Meseret made the remarks on February 25 in a virtual dialogue which was organised by the Ethiopian Embassy in Uganda in partnership with the African Youth dubbed ‘Dialogue on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and cooperation in the Nile Basin’
In the Dialogue, H.E. Alemtsehay Meseret, Mr. Zerihun Abebe, a senior diplomat and member of the GERD tripartite negotiating team discussed the issue at stake and participants from youth representatives and journalists were in attendance.
“Over 84% of the construction work, which includes civil, mechanical, and electrical works, is completed and one of the thirteen turbines started generating electricity by now,” Ms Meseret said.
The ambassador noted that the dam will address the quest of basic electricity demand by 65 million Ethiopians who suffer due to the lack of electricity.
Ethiopia’s current total energy production does not meet the more than 110 million and growing population that require increasing amounts of food; growing economy and expanding urban centres and industries demanding more and more energy. GERD through energy production will serve as a catalyst to address the country’s economic endeavours.
“From a regional perspective, in view of low power generation in the region especially in sub-Saharan Africa where only a few countries are able to generate enough power to meet their domestic demand; the dam will contribute to boost intra-regional energy trade.”
The Ambassador also underscored that finalising the ratification process of the CFA and forming the Nile River Basin Commission is the best way to go forward to cooperate on the Nile River.
Dr. Andrew, the chairman of the African youth caucus, highlighting the importance of the special series on GERD and cooperation in the Nile Basin to the youth, emphasised that Pre-colonial agreements are no longer relevant for a 21st Century Nile Basin Cooperation.
He shared that in regards to the GERD, issues could be solved through better efforts to seek technical compromise between all three countries as the AU retains its place as the best option for independent dispute resolution.
Mr. Zerihun Abebe, a senior diplomat and a member of the GERD tripartite negotiating team, explained the socio-economic, political and legal perspectives of the Nile River and the Dam.
He disclosed the progress and achievements made in the trilateral engagement and negotiation over GERD since 2011 and mentioned that the 2015 Declaration of Principle signed among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan is a milestone as downstream countries accepted the cardinal principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of the obligation not to cause significant harm.
He however criticised that River Nile is highly politicised and securitised by the downstream countries, which curtailed a possible and better cooperation among all the riparian countries.
Garang Kuot Lester, a member of the East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform for South Sudan, mentioned that the issue of water resource management cannot be overemphasized in the Nile Basin.
In particular, the management of the Nile waters has been a source of historical controversies among the countries of Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Uganda. He noted that despite the challenges, the need to use the Nile Waters to propel development and address pressing economic challenges remains undisputable.
“For example, Sudan and Egypt both need to drink and irrigate from the Nile River, Ethiopia, Uganda and other Nile Basin countries as well need to meet their energy needs for the growing population through the Nile waters. The 13 years long construction of the GERD is of a particular significance to the continent. In Africa, to implement such a project, a country would need to take a huge loan from IFIs or rich countries, but this was hardly the case for Ethiopia.”