By Abebe Aschalew
Tigrai Onlne - April 14, 2014
Out of the many historic and great speeches our great leader Ato Meles Zenawi gave the one he did at the event held to lay the cornerstone of Ethiopia’s “Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam” stands out. Today three Years on since that day, his speech still echoes at this time and moment where the project is 32 % Completed.
This speech “…Since we, the people of Africa, are the coordinators, the builders, engineers and the source of finance, it (the project) is a document of our ownership to use the Blue Nile”; which was made at a time when the whole public from every corner was showing its support for the project, confirms how he saw at that moment, what we are seeing today.
I don’t think this speech of his will ever be lost from the hearts of the Ethiopian people. This speech has heralded and enabled the whole Ethiopian people to start in earnest this grand project they haven’t able to centuries due to lack of the capability to do it and lack of prudent leadership. Today, three years after the project’s cornerstone was laid on March 24, 2003, the project is going ahead without stopping even for a single minute. It should be said that, during these past three years the public’s participation was immense.
Dear Readers! In this article I will try to look into the historic Support the whole Ethiopian people from the child to the old gave (and still is giving) to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that ranged from finance (those who have the pocket) to labor (those who are able), since the project was started. In addition to this, I will try to walk you through the current state of the project.
As it’s known, our country has been living in poverty and backwardness for centuries. And its people have been for years’ victim of famine and drought as they were unable to benefit from any developmental works (or effort). This fact has been told (Expressed) by any member of the international community and had also been a source of shame for our people. In face until recent times, our country’s name was being used to explain the meaning of famine in dictionaries.
However, the fact that this grip of poverty and helplessness that our people felt is lifting step-by-step starting from the last two decades can be attested by none other than the Ethiopian people who have been the victim of this nightmare.
Especially the government formulated successful policies strategies and public-inclusive effort has changed our history by bearing fruitful results for the last ten years. By recording two digit economic growth, we have been able to be register on a new dictionary: an example of the Sub-Saharan non-energy based economic development.
The ‘Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’ project, one of the main development projects that’s helping our people say ‘we had enough of poverty’ and break free from the shackles of ‘It can’t be done’ attitude, is only a few days shy of celebrating its third year anniversary. This project which is one of the developmental works that is facilitating our Renaissance is also a grand developmental monument that will pass to the next generation as the fingerprint of this generation.
We, Today’s generation, still to this day use the Axum and Lalibela civilization; which the past generation passed over to us centuries ago, for attracting tourists, while remembering them in the process. And our generation is working day and night to realize this grand project, and pass it through to the next generation while opening a new chapter in our country’s development history. This is part of the vision held by the government to pass development, rather than begging, to the next generation.
Since the cornerstone for this project was laid on March 24, 2003 by our great leader Ato Meles Zenawi, the whole Ethiopian nation, nationalities and people, as one, have shown their support to the project. And this strong and fine act of theirs is still continuing with full commitment. Until this moment where the construction of the dam has reached more than 32% completion, the whole Ethiopia people from all corners haven’t stopped their support.
Today, at the eve of the third year anniversary, it’s being stated that different section of the project is being finished. While the public is trying with all its might and consent for the dam project to end within the scheduled time, it’s also repeatedly stating that it’s lucky that it was able to put its fingerprint in this historic project.
It has made the project a national agenda by preparing various junctures and staging support rallies. The fact that this project will enable the people to go after the til’ now indomitable Blue Nile River and to put it to use for nationwide development, has tied up the hearts of every citizen as one.
Following this, the whole Ethiopian people are keeping their pledge of supporting the grand Ethiopian Dam through its finance, labor and profession. Although many sides are saying what they want to say, the project is still going ahead without stopping even for a second.
The Ethiopian public by buying the bond that was prepared by the government to collect finance that would be spent for the project, it has and still is carrying out its own part. The ones that are buying the bond range from the child to the old Ethiopian descendents and Ethiopians leaving abroad.
This is why it’s said, ‘the GERD is a project that sits on every Ethiopian hearts’. And Ethiopians that live abroad are playing a constructive role, by not only buying large amounts of the project’s bond, but also by visiting the project cite and encouraging other Ethiopians to contribute their own part.
As it’s known Ethiopia’s yesterday history was about winning against invading forces that tried to invade our country by going at them as one. However, it’s also a known fact that previous governments did not have the commitment to mobilize the people as one for development.
Nevertheless, since the FDRE government declared our rights to use the Blue Nile River, which previous governments weren’t able to, the whole people of our country are working nonstop like hand and glove on every developmental opportunities.
This is a clear showcase for the reason of our problems as it shows it is not because our people are lazy, but because the Ethiopian people did not find a government that said ‘let’s work together and build our country’. So the continuous effort of the whole Ethiopian nation, nationalities and people, including our people that live abroad, with regards to the ‘GERD’ project deserves appreciation.
The ‘GERD’ construction project has more than anything motivated our people to participate in the campaign against poverty, which asks utilization of our natural resource. The reason why this project is becoming a national project is for one was the project (when it’s completed) will not only benefit us but also the surrounding riparian countries, and secondly it has opened a new chapter in a way that will prepare us for additional grand projects.
Since the project was made official, it has changed the minds and attitudes of many. It has become a project where the kids of today are eager to tell their children in the future of the historic moment when they bought the Bond of the project.
Here, it’s helpful to raise one comment made by a religious father. “Any Ethiopian, except for the children in the wombs of their mothers or those who are dead, who did not contribute to the ‘GERD’ project, his/her citizenship should be put to suspicion” This goes out to show how much disappointment there is in the public with regards to the river (project).
I don’t think we have to go far to see the full commitment of the Ethiopian people and government with regards to the ‘GERD’ construction. The fact that this kind of grand project is being constructed by their huge effort and resources, without any foreign assistance is a strong explanatory of this truth. And it also shows us that the project is a (representation) of Ethiopian people commitment to break free from poverty, and that it’s expression of their disappointment that spanned centuries, So, I think the fact that our people treat this project as a looking glass of our renaissance path (as seen on various junctures prepared with regards to the project), should be applauded.
As it’s known, it’s been said that our country’s first electric power generating dam known as ‘Aba Samuel’ that was built some seventy four years ago, was not constructed by Ethiopians. Of course this dam has now stopped its work.
It was only six mega watt of electrical power that it was able to generate when it was operational. History tells us that the dam was built by the Italian government. This was because it was done in repatriation for the suffering and tortures the then Italian government done on the Ethiopian people to go through.
Today the wave of history has changed. A dam that’s more one thousand times better is being built by our government and people without any foreign loan and aid. What we can understand from this is the fact that there is nothing a bundle of hands that are pointed to development cannot achieve.
As the saying ‘One hand washes the other’ implies, if a people move as one , there isn’t anything that is can’t achieve, and I don’t think we can find any example better than the “GERD” project to confirm this fact.
The whole Ethiopian people have given their word that they will renew their promise to give their support to the project as one. And this confirms that there can be no force that would stop the people mobilization that was created as a result of the project.
All in all, the fact that the public is contributing to the project three years since the government started the project by declaring “I will need the public’s support”, is very commendable. And the public’s all encompassing support is also laudable.
At this time and moment where we are on the eve of the project’s third year, I think it’s necessary to raise some important details. This is because it can set the record straight for those who oppose the project intuitively (without a cause).
As it’s known, the benefit of the GERD project is not only for our country, but also to the downstream countries. Of course, when we look into the fact that the Sudanese are also buying the bonds, it’s because they understand the benefit it has to their country.
As its known, there are currently up to twenty (20) dams in our country. The total amount of electrical power they all generate is two thousand (2000) Mega watts. But, when the GERD is completed, it will (alone) generate 6000 Mega watt of electricity.
This shows that the twenty dams that are currently operating in our county together only generate up to 1/3rd of the power the ‘GERD’ will generate. This implies building the ‘GERD’ is a must for us.
According to studies, Ethiopia has the potential to generate up to 60,000 Mega watt of electricity by using various power generating sources. And the country can generate 45,000 Mega watt of electricity only by using its water resources. Out of this, the country can generate 28,000 Mega watt of electricity only by diverting the Blue Nile.
If we are to calculate these numbers, we’ll see that the Blue Nile covers 62% of the potential power our rivers can generate. This is why the government is making a concerted effort together with the people by making the (blue) Nile key part of this effort.
In its current state, the 2km concrete work that links the two peaks of the mountains of the dam is being done. The height of the dam is 145 meters. The width of the concrete placement is 20 meters. Although, some forces that don’t want to see our country’s development, including Egypt, are saying what they want to say, the dam’s height and width will not in any way be reduced.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one and the main electric generating dam project that is planned on the 5 year Growth and transformation plan (GTP). When this grand project is completed, it’s expected that our country will get 10,000 mega watt of electricity together with other dams.
The dam in general has sixteen (16) turbines, which when operational they have the capability to generate 6000 MW of electricity. Six of the turbines are on the right, while on the left side there are ten turbines. These turbines each generate 375 Mega watt of electric power…Having probed this much unto the projects detail, let us look unto the public’s non-stop support that was exhibited on the project third year anniversary celebration.
As its known preparation to celebrate the third year are finished. And the public on top buying bonds (on its own prerogative); it is also taking long travel to visit the site of the project. And it’s showing its good faith to the project by encouraging the project’s workers.
The next celebration date of the Ethiopia’s nation, nationalities and people day will be in the Beninshangul Gumuz Regional state, where the ‘GERD’ is constructed. According to information’s gathered, as the two turbines will be completed and will be operational after nine months, it’s believed that it will grow our country’s electrical power by generating 700 MW.
And for this to happen, the all encompassing participation of our people is irreplaceable. for the last 3 years the people have already helped the project reach 32% completion by doing all it can. Thus, believing that the whole Ethiopian nation, nationalities and people will continue with their drive until the construction of the dam is completed, I would like to say as a fellow citizen to our committed and good people ‘Happy Third Year Anniversay’… “Enkuan Aderesachehu” …