Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam is a symbol of sovereignty ; will be completed and start filling water during the coming rainy season , says PM Abiy Ahmed
April 1, 2020
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would start filling water during the rainy season this year, which is about two or so months away.
He said so in a message he conveyed to Ethiopians on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the launch of the GERD Project.
“As we commemorate the ninth anniversary of the project at this critical time, we are facing two major challenges. One is the Corona epidemic. The other one is issues relating to the Grand Renaissance Dam itself,” he said.
Ethiopia’s policy focus for a long time now has been reducing poverty in the country, transforming the economy by way of developing the manufacturing sector for which energy supply is a key factor. The country’s existing capacity for much-needed energy supply is weak. More than 65 percent of Ethiopia’s 110 million population does not have access to electricity.
It was with that in mind that the Ethiopian government came up with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project nine years ago. And the project has got a good reception among Ethiopians. Much of the finance needed for the project was mobilized locally through a bond sale and voluntary donation. Millions of Ethiopians have contributed to it financially, which is an added layer of sense of ownership.
“The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is not just one that we paid for from the meager household income we have. It is also a project through which we demonstrated our capability to make things happen,” Abiy Ahmed noted in his message.
Moreover, he said that “We have high regard for the dam. Because it is the symbol of our sovereignty, it is also a bond that binds Ethiopians together. The construction would be completed during the coming rainy season. And we will start filling the water.”
However, he pointed out that the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic has significantly impacted the project as the government has to also focus on preventing the spread of it. And he called upon Ethiopians that the fight against COVID 19 should not obstruct Ethiopia’s effort to complete the dam. He seems to be interested in making the resource mobilization effort a double aged-sword. The theme of the message he conveyed is, “We will reverse the spread of Coronavirus; we will complete building the dam.”
According to Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy in Ethiopia, Seleshi Bekele, the dam is 72.4 percent completed. He also said that the government has put in place a robust Coronavirus prevention measure for those who are working on the national project.
US-brokered negotiation on the filling and operation of the dam ended without agreement. Ethiopia did not attend the last round of the talks, which was in Washington DC in late February, which prompted the United States to issue a command like a statement warning Ethiopia no to start filling the same without signing an agreement with Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia rejected the US statement as inappropriate and disappointing. Currently, the negotiation is stalled.
Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, is reportedly interested in approaching both Ethiopia and Egypt to resume the talks.
In the weeks following the failure of the Washington negotiation, Egypt launched a diplomatic campaign in the Gulf countries and Europe while escalating rhetoric about possible military action. In early March 2020, Egypt mobilized members of the Arab League countries against Ethiopia. Members, except Sudan, signed a position statement that condemned Ethiopia. The next day Ethiopia announced that it rejects the statement from the Arab League.
In mid-March, Ethiopia responded by launching a diplomatic campaign to Nile riparian countries. While Egypt wants Ethiopia to adhere to what it calls “historical right” over the Nile River, Ethiopia’s position is rooted in fair use of the water among all riparian countries.
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