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Ethiopia’s Dam Project to be Energy Hub of East Africa

ethiopia damEthiopia has always been the major contributor to the Nile, with its Blue Nile feeding the rainfall from the Ethiopian Highlands to the wider Nile downstream. Since the government began construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011, with the aim of generating 6,000 MW of electricity, the project has attracted attention from media outlets.

The project was awarded to Salini Costruttori SPA, an Italian company that has built more than 20 dams in Europe, Asia and Africa, including the Gilgel Gibe II and Tana Beles dams in Ethiopia, and is currently constructing the on-going Gilgel Gibe III dam. The electro – and hydro- mechanical work at GERD is being undertaken by Ethiopia’s Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC), while Alstom, a French engineering company, will supply turbines and generators and supervise the installation of all the electro-mechanical equipment for the hydro-power plant’s consulting work, carried out by a joint Italo-French Engineers company.

The primary objective of the GERD project is the generation of electricity. It will enable Ethiopia to completely cover the country’s internal power needs. These have been growing at an average rate of 25 percent a year. A reliable and affordable source of energy is a fundamental need not just for the well-being of the population, but also for the economic growth and poverty-reduction efforts being undertaken by the country.

Many rural communities in Ethiopia still do not have the benefits in health and quality of life provided by electrical services, such as lighting or refrigeration. Ethiopia also aspires to be the green energy hub of East Africa, delivering clean and renewable energy at cost value to neighboring countries. It has already signed contracts to export electricity to Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan.

According to various studies, a one unit percent increase in energy supply can increase economic growth by at least 1 percent. On that basis, when GERD begins operations, the national economy will increase by an additional 4 percent. This, in turn, will provide a catalyst for mutual development and interdependence, helping create long-lasting peace between countries throughout the region.

However, the benefit of the GERD is not restricted to power supplies. The dam will regulate the water and ensure a steady flow throughout the year, preventing the occurrence of floods downstream in Sudan or Egypt. Equally, GERD will hold back a major portion of silt and sedimentation. Over the years, this has rendered dams located in downstream countries much less effective, causing them to lose their water storage and electric power generation capacities.

Indeed, this had meant both Sudan and Egypt have had to allocate huge sums to infrastructure maintenance, including replacement of turbines and dredging of clogged irrigation channels. Another benefit is that the topography of GERD’s location and the fact that the reservoir is to be built in a deep gorge will help minimize the water’s direct exposure to sunlight and reduce evaporation loss by up to 4 billion cubic meters annually. This, of course, means there will be significantly more water available for downstream countries to use.

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What people are saying

9 thoughts on “Ethiopia’s Dam Project to be Energy Hub of East Africa

  1. Cali Connect says:

    take a look outside the box see whats going on from a global stand point

  2. ገንብሬ ገላውድዮስ says:

    God Bless Ethiopia and Israel!

  3. Meanwhile, despite the clear benefits for downstream countries, Egypt is continuing its tradition of obstructionism by lobbying the international community to apply financial pressures to stop the dam. Egypt calls itself "the gift of the Nile" and cite treaties from the colonial era with Britain on which they claim the vast majority, if not entitlement to all the Nile water, including ever branch, save for a portion set aside of Sudan. Egyptians also claim the right to veto any effort of the upstream countries, especially Ethiopia, to use their tributaries of the Nile, along with authority to oversee each project. In other words, according to Egypt, Ethiopia and the other upstream countries have no water rights, and therefore, I would argue, no sovereign rights.

  4. Ben Derebe says:

    Well the only difference now is that Egypt is in a much weaker position than it was before. They are isolated as even the Sudanese have agreed for the dam to be built. They have a big insurgency in the North and just had a government change weeks ago. They cannot muster the unity required to obstruct the construction.

  5. Egypt's greed is causing a problem. Egyptian politicians are busy of demonizing a project that benefits the three countries. Their greed blinded their eye for a win win solution and scientifically proven facts. In the 21st century Egyptian elites are think they are in the time of the Pharaoh. Ethiopia repeatedly called Egypt to wake-up to the reality of 21st century. Fortunately the response from Cairo is blatant lie. Genuine Cooperation can take us a long way, not deception and ugly political maneuvering. Ethiopia's intention is very clear, alleviating its own citizen from poverty… no plan to hard Egypt. WAKE UP EGYPT, hate and blind political agenda won't take you any where.

  6. there is "light" at the end of the tunnel.

  7. go ahead My country !

  8. Gizachew Balew says:

    Do you believe it is really fair to rally against the construction and lead the poor to further its poverty!! You may be correct that the Politics in Egypt is not good by now, but let's say that it is good and the country is capable of doing so, it is that really what the globe has to be!!! I understand that you have a resource doesn't mean that you can use it from all these dirty international Politics. I guess Egyptians should think again and collaborate with their Ethiopian Brothers, Trying to revive the Colonial Era strategy doesn't work more!!!!!!

  9. Zainab ThehealthGenie Williams says:

    It is time for us to look to ourselves for our solutions. Relying on each other for solutions to our problems WITHOUT interference from others. No need to seek their approval of our actions. To be sovereign means to ACT sovereign. Do not wait for approval from former oppressors. TAKE ACTION to secure our future in unity, partnership and common benefit. Focus on building up our Families, Communities, Cities and Nations for the greater good of OUR people. This is OUR people, OUR land and OUR FUTURE. We need no permission from anyone else.

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