The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam - GERD: At the mercy of World Bank and the USA
By Molla Mitiku
Tigrai Online Feb. 24, 2020
The interference of U.S.A, IMF and World Bank is Ethiopian government failure that this powers might halt the construction of the GERD after 65 percent of the mega project has been completed.
The construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which was estimated to cost a total of 4.7 billion USD to be financed and constructed with local capabilities. The President of Tigray Regional State Dr. Debretsion Gebremichel was responsible in leading the entire project as a board chairman of the GERD.
He told foreign and local journalists outside Tigray on the 20th of February 2020 at his office the GERD was undertaking well at that time. He emphasized that
the reason why the Ethiopian government didn't allow foreign intimidation was to prevent interference in the course of the construction.
He expressed his disappointment on the recent accusation as if the Dam was used by the government for political consumption.
According to Dr. Debretsion, the very notion of building GERD was not political but it was economic. The intention was to build power engineering industry in Ethiopia. There was a plan to generate as huge power as possible to help in sustaining the economic development of the country.
In fact, available documents indicate that the country has targeted to increase its power generating capacity to over 17,000 MW by 2020, with an overall potential of 35,000 MW by 2037 in order to sustain Ethiopia’s continued economic growth and enable it to become a regional renewable energy hub in East Africa. But nowadays that the plan has just jeopardized.
"The current status of GERD is disappointing. Although the construction reached around 64/65 percent before government changes in the country, it began moving backward. At that time, we evaluated all the problems that we face in the process of constructing the dam and looked at different opportunities to enhance its generating capacity," he said.
Dr. Debretsion also said that following leadership change within the EPRDF and the government, GERD has discharged politically than viewed in its economic contribution to the country. However, politics has nothing to do with it. We started it with a vision to build Power Engineering Industry in Ethiopia not for political consumption. Therefore, blackmailing it as if it was constructed for the gains in politics is a shortsighted look.
Dr. Debretsion added the design and technical study was sent to Europe and Latin America and its international standard was proved.
The reason why we decided to accomplish it with our own finance and manpower was in a bid to avoid foreign interferences that may retard the construction. That was why only one foreign company was allowed so work with us to fill the gaps that local skills fail to operate.
"In recognition to the service it will deliver for centuries, we were applying everything carefully. That is why we denied the interference of foreigners in fear of their unpredictable action upon our Dam. Sadly, now Americans and World Bank have joined the discussion due to leadership weakness," Dr. Debretsion said.
In fact, Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt have been discussing about the impact of GERD on downstream countries since the inception of its construction without any other foreign intimidation. The IMF and World Bank were asking to have such access from the very beginning but were denied by Ethiopia although Egypt had been insisting for their participation.
However, the argument on the Ethiopian side was that as the initiative for the tripartite talks came from Ethiopia, the three countries could resolve their problems without the interference of other countries or organizations. The intention of the call for tripartite discussion was to rationalize everything and develop confidence on the downstream countries.
However, the tripartite discussion has been sometime flaring array of hope and at other time became cloudy and gloomy even at another time terminated at all due to the various irrelevant questions posed by Egypt.
Egypt's inquiry at the very beginning was to incorporate the 1959 treaty made between the two downstream countries the Sudan and Egypt. That agreement favored Egypt sustain monopoly of the water and it wanted to incorporate that agreement to the tripartite negotiation. Ethiopia has disproved the legality of that agreement.
Then, Egyptians presented as if the Dam significantly reduce the amount of water flowing to downstream countries and secondly, they asked about the Dam's standards.
However, Ethiopia from the very beginning has elaborated that the Dam never inflict any harm on downstream countries. It rather plays a remarkable role for economic integration among the three countries and the other Nile riparian.
In fact, the Sudan, whose partnership Ethiopia lost today, was a strong ally at that moment. It recognized the benefits that downstream countries might enjoy after the completion of the Dam. But Egypt remained with its concerns continued untill the approvals by the International Panel of Experts and other scholars working in the field. Ethiopia has explained repeatedly that the major objective of the Dam is to facilitate poverty alleviation schemes.
While the tripartite continued staggering, Egypt had been attempting all means that could help to jeopardize the Dam. It designed different strategies to create havoc in Ethiopia. Firstly, it has been supporting political parties and strengthen them to stand against EPRDF and the government of Ethiopia. Secondly, it has been instigating religious conflicts in the country. Thirdly, it has been working in dividing the ruling party apart and support the faction. And lastly it has been backing any violence in the country. Egypt had been offering a number of trainings to groups that aimed to disintegrate the country.
GERD is among the projects launched by the government to develop the country’s economy. The denial of its significance role in facilitating the economic integration along the Nile Basin apart from its contribution to minimize water evaporation, minimize flood and maintain constant amount of water flows to downstream countries has resulted in disharmony among Ethiopia and Egypt.
Realizing the benefits the construction of the dam could have, the Sudan was previously on the side of Ethiopia. But nowadays things have changed. It has the same stand with Egypt.
Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael described this as a failure of the leadership. He said that the discussions were undertaking and solutions were presented to every problem in the previous years.
Now the interference of America, IMF and World Bank is our own failures that their interest could be extended upto halting the construction. However, the construction reached at a point where it cannot be collapsed. In having relations with World Bank and IMF, everyone has to know that there is no free lunch. They offer us money and coerced as to do something they want.
The President of the Regional State of Tigray Dr. Debretsion also agreed with this idea. He said, "The skilled manpower that we have amassed in due process of the construction was also now dispersed. Where can we bring our own skilled manpower if we fail to maintain what we had so far? The supports coming from USA, World Bank and IMF have their own prerequisites. They give us money and persuade us to accomplish something they desired. That is why the number of turbines has been reduced. However, it is good that the government have recently made vivid that it won't accept what these organizations and Egypt are posing currently".