Ethiopia’s dam is a matter of survival,not development: experts

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is being portrayed as a prestige project in some Egyptian media outlets. Ethiopian experts say the dame is a matter of survival issue for Ethiopians.

Ethiopian Dam _ Egypt position
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project. Photo credit : EBC

borkena
April 24, 2020 
Updated on April 25,2020

As Egyptian media stir sensationalism on the issue of the Ethiopian dam by painting it as a project of prestige and power, Ethiopian experts deconstruct such a narrative. 

Zerihun Abebe is a member of Ethiopian delegates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has been part of the negotiations. He said, as reported by state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation, completing the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam is not just a matter of development. It is more of a matter of survival for Ethiopia.

Elaborating his point, he said Ethiopia’s total surface water resource is about 112 cubic meters per annum. Abay (Nile) will all its tributaries Tekeze, Baro, and Akobo river basins, all together, constitute about 72 percent of it. 



Six of the nine regional states of Ethiopia are within that river basin system, Abebe Zerihun says. Up to 50 million people in those regions directly depend on the Nile river basins, according to his analysis. 

In terms of power generation, he noted that more 65 million Ethiopian people do not have electricity. However, he said, the dam is framed as a prestige and power project in the Egyptian narratives which he says is a misrepresentation.  Their narrative might have been informed by various assumptions but the dam is a question of survival as far as Ethiopia is concerned, he underscored.  

Mekdelawit Messay is an engineer and climate advocate who studied at home and in the Netherlands. She has numerous publications regarding the Nile river and the Ethiopian dam.

She told FBC the Nile River and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is crucial for the survival of Ethiopia. Furthermore, she noted the level of abject poverty in the country and highlighted that the project is relevant to meet 17 of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. The task of bringing electricity for over two-thirds of Ethiopia’s 110 million people is dependent on the project, she added. For her, not completing the dam harms not just this generation but generations to come. 

Meanwhile, project manager of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Kifle Horo, said on Friday that the metal works needed for the pre-power generation work of the dam is completed and the concrete filling is underway.  But the overall metal work related to the project is at 26 percent. The entire project is completed 73 percent according to the manager. 

Ethiopia is intending to start filling the dam during the rainy months of July and August of this year, and two of the turbines are expected to start generating power once that is completed. During the initial phase, 4.9 billion cubic meters of water will be filled in the dam. 

It is to be recalled that the series of negotiations that the United States of America initiated, and in which it took part as an “observer,” failed in February 2020. Ethiopia did not attend the last round of the negotiation. The United States wanted Ethiopia not to start filling and operating the dam without signing an agreement with Egypt first – a position to which Ethiopia expressed disappointment. 

Rumors in social media this week indicate that Gulf countries are interested in mediating Egypt and Ethiopia. However, political pundits tend to think that Ethiopia should not allow mediators from outside of Africa and that all Nile riparian countries need to be part of the conversation. 



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11 Responses to "Ethiopia’s dam is a matter of survival,not development: experts"

  1. Dejene   April 25, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Well said man. You are right. The Egyptians always say that “Ethiopia needs electricity but Egypt needs water for survival”. We reiterate this to the whole world that taming Abay River is a matter of life or death for Ethiopia. Let everybody know this. A man by the name of Dr. Mohamed Nasr El-Din Allam wrote on Thu, Apr. 23, 2020 on Egypt today newspaper saying that Recently, the media of Ethiopia is continuously publishing articles and news full of falsified accuses and claims against Egypt. He said that Egypt is not calling for activating the historical colonial agreements of 1929 and 1959 throughout the negotiations around the GERD. If Egypt discard it’s narrative of what it call’s “historical right” and fully accept Ethiopia’s right to use its God given Natural resource for whatever purpose Ethiopia wishes to use why all this wrangling.

    Reply
  2. Dejene   April 25, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Well said man. You are right. The Egyptians always say that “Ethiopia needs electricity but Egypt needs water for survival”. We reiterate this to the whole world that taming Abay River is a matter of life or death for Ethiopia. Let everybody know this. An Egyptian man who wrote under the title “Opinion: Message to the people of Ethiopia” on Thu, Apr. 23, 2020 on Egyptian newspaper saying that Recently, the media of Ethiopia is continuously publishing articles and news full of falsified accuses and claims against Egypt. He said that Egypt is not calling for activating the historical colonial agreements of 1929 and 1959 throughout the negotiations around the GERD. If Egypt discard it’s narrative of what it call’s “historical right” and fully accept Ethiopia’s right to use its God given Natural resource for whatever purpose Ethiopia wishes to use why all this wrangling.

    Reply
  3. Abdi Araleh   April 25, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Let’s say the dam is built to assume power, prestige, and strategic advantage. Well, what exactly is wrong with that? Every government’s target is to attain those goals. Why should Ethiopia shy away from admitting it’s development objectives?

    Reply
  4. Adiedo Adiedo.   April 25, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Ethiopia.Do not under whatever Agreement negotiate over GERD fullstop.do a waiting game they will come in another ways for the same.Ethiopia keep your eyes open. The bottom line Egypt does not respect Ethiopia

    Reply
  5. Getachew   April 25, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    To be frank, I propose to come up with concrete strategies, after gaining the mentality of the common Egyptians about GERD; leaving aside the selfish and narrow minded politicians/ officials. By any standard, we Ethiopians are shy and do not bring out our thoughts/plans on GERD to the rest of the world. Egyptians are feeding the world their false claims, as if the dam brings harm to the entire people, living will be difficult,,,, etc,, etc. There should be an organized unit/ department reaching out all our genuine evidences to neutralize their lies. This should be a continuous task of the department. Please let Ministry of Water, Mines & Energy lead the process; with support of all concerned Ethiopians from locally & abroad. The common Egyptians should know & understand about our just, fair & equitable utilisation of Abay (Nile) in our territory. It is not requesting their permission, in doing this. Creating energy access, produce food, decrease poverty for many million Ethioipians is beyond reaching SDG; it is indeed a matter of survival or death.

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  6. Daniel   April 25, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    @Abdi: You said it right. Ethiopia can use all its resources to fulfill all the gaps in food, water and energy security. I think it’s the Egyptians who want the Nile for their prestige instead. Because unlike Ethiopia, they have a much better access to electricity and food safety. They have lots of resources Their geography is at an important spot. They use the suiz canal to collect a huge sum of money from every passing ship. They also have huge costal areas to attract tourists and to build desalination plants. Their tourist destinations are also a lot given their proximity to Asia and Europe. All of these factors mentioned above contribute a lot to put Egypt at a good position in terms of Economy. They are not forbidden to use the water but The Nile should not be considered as their only resource to look into. That’s my advice for them. We Ethiopians have a full right to use all the resources,including Abay river to alleviate our own economic problems and get millions out of poverty.
    At last , I wanna mention the following. A couple of days ago, Egypt send a medical supply to the USA. This seems to me that it is not because America is poor in medical supply but Egypt want to be seen positive in the eyes of America. And today, just 2 days after Egypt send the medical package to America, Trump Spoke to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and discuss about some undisclosed issues in which we can guess GERD is one of them. So my message to the Ethiopian people and Government is that we must stay firm in our quest to keep all our interest vis a vis GERD ! This is our priority!!!
    Egypt spread its hand to America but we Ethiopians spread our hand to the Almighty GOD !

    Reply
  7. MEDHIN   April 25, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Whatever it’s, blue nile is our water, our blood, our life, n it’s not Egyptian resource. It will never ever belongs to Egypt, we need it more than they need it .
    It’s better to respect each other. Unless we are the lions of the world n African continent, no one can defeat us. Its world fact, that Ethiopia is powerfull country.

    Reply
  8. Yeshambel   April 26, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Let the world know that we Ethiopian really do not know either white or blue nile what we know is ower own Abay , which Egypt and Egyptians as well as all other world do not understand.
    We are ready to share our Abay we do not care about Nile . We love to share what we have equally. We are not greedy like others.we are created to share not take the right of the others.
    Egyptian should come up with a very clear motive of equitable share of our God given resources.
    The Egyptian should know that the so called Nile river will not be the means of ward rather it shall be the mean for cooperation and economic development there for when every the Egyptian demand for any historic right to use Nile we Ethiopian have fot clear God given right to use our Abay river which we really never care about the share of Nile.

    Reply
  9. Yeshambel   April 26, 2020 at 8:45 am

    What is the difference between
    GOD GIVEN RIGHT VS HISTORIC RIGHR on Nile river.
    Which one sounds and comes first ?
    Hope this above questions has got two answer based on the person whom you as.However the same question was supposed to have similar answer.
    The only option to answer the above question is not to look on the question rather to brings people who answer this question to the table of negotiations.
    If you just ask the above question and Egyptians they will say the answer is Historic right if you as this question to all Nile repatriated countries people they all say it is God given right.Still the question remain the same for all people.
    Now it is time for Egypt and Ethiopia as well as other Nile repatriate counties to come to a single table and resolve this issue just not for now only but also for the generations to come. We have got enough resources to use and share why we all rash to the word of war.
    We as an Ethiopia and Ethiopian are willing to cooperate with Egypt as far as there is equitable share in this regards.The time to share is still on table however the time to compromise on Aby is over.
    The time to sing on the colonial era agreement is over now we are living in the free world in which all African countries can stand together to meet the right and the demand of their people.
    For dear Egyptian what I wanna advise is that come with genuine and equitable use of Nile river which is awfully crucial for the all counties is East Africa as well as Egypt.

    Reply
  10. Ahmed Adan   April 26, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    Egyptian power brokers have been using TheNile water to cultivate roses and flowers and sell it to European consumers and make money to invest in arms industry and destabilize African and Middle Eastern countries .

    Reply
  11. Arefaine   April 27, 2020 at 12:13 am

    Egyptian they know that they don’t have any right to tell to Ethiopia what kind right Egyptian have that right think Egypt has is no their superior British give them they figure it out it is too old
    ETHIOPIA WAS NOT COLONIZED BY ANY COUNTRY. PLEASE DO NOT BRING THE ISSUE YOUR SUPERIOR LEFT YOU WITH.
    we know that you decide not to understand if you act as a dumb listen to this you made up too much story you’re a liar by saying you need freshwater you don’t need freshwater your fresh greedy show off the government.
    we know you have all your refurbish military equipment. we know you think through your muscle, not your brain.

    Reply

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