The Ambassador of Ethiopia to Uganda H.E Alemtsehay Meseret has revealed that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is destined to address the quest of basic energy demand of 65 million Ethiopians and people in the region who suffer due to the lack of electricity.
She made the remarks last week during a Speaker Series on Dialogue in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Cooperation in the Nile Basin organised by the Ethiopian Embassy in Uganda in partnership with the African Youth Caucus.
The GERD is the largest Hydroelectric project in Africa currently being constructed on the Blue Nile river, which is originated in Ethiopian highland, with a capacity of producing 5150 MW.
H.E Alemtsehay revealed that GERD is progressing very well with over 84 % of the construction work, which includes civil, mechanical, and electrical works, complete and that one of the thirteen turbines started generating electricity.
The Dam will address the quest of basic electricity demand by 65 million Ethiopians who suffer due to the lack of electricity. Ethiopia’s current total energy production does not meet the more than 110 million and growing population that require increasing amount of food, growing economy and expanding urban centres and industries demanding more and more energy.H.E Alemtsehay Meseret
“GERD through energy production will serve as a catalyst to address the country’s economic endeavors,” she adds.
The Ambassador reiterated that from a regional perspective and in a view of low power generation in the sub-Saharan Africa when only few countries are able to generate enough power to meet their domestic demand, “the Dam will boost intra-regional energy trade.”
She underscored that finalising the ratification process of the CFA and forming the Nile River Basin Commission is the best way to go forward to cooperate on the Nile River.
On his part, Zerihun Abebe, a Senior Diplomat and Member of the GERD tripartite negotiating team, representatives and journalists participated in the Dialogue.
Dr. Andrew, the Chairman of the African youth caucus highlighted the importance of the special series on GERD and cooperation in the Nile Basin to the youth.
He emphasised that Pre-colonial agreements are no longer relevant for a 21st Century Nile Basin Cooperation and in the GERD, issues could be solved through better efforts to seek technical compromise between all three countries as the AU retains its place as the best option for independent dispute resolution.
Zerihun Abebe, identified the socio-economic, political and legal perspectives of the Nile River and the Dam before disclosing that the achievements and progress so far made in the trilateral engagement and negotiation on GERD since 2011, and the 2015 Declaration of Principle signed by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are a great milestione since downstream countries accepted the cardinal principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of the obligation not to cause significant harm.
He however expressed concern that the Nile river is highly politicised and securitised by the downstream countries, which curtailed a possible and better cooperation among all the riparian countries.
Garang Kuot Lester, member of the East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform for South Sudan, mentioned that the issue of water resource management cannot be overemphasized in the Nile Basin.
In particular, he said, the management of the Nile waters has been a source of historical controversies among the countries of Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Uganda.
He noted that , despite the challenges, the need to use the Nile Waters to propel development and address pressing economic challenges remains undisputable. For example, Sudan and Egypt both need to drink and irrigate from the Nile River, Ethiopia, Uganda and other Nile Basin countries as well need to meet their energy needs for the growing population through the Nile waters.
Garang further explained that the 13 years long construction of the “GERD”, the largest dam on the African continent is of a particular significance to the continent.
In Africa, to implement such a project, a country would need to take a huge loan from IFIs or rich countries, but this was hardly the case for Ethiopia, he said.