14 April 2017

Ethiopia: A Dream Close to Realization

Photo: Soman/Wikipedia
Ethiopia's national and regional flags.
opinion

Ethiopia had been described as a source for water for the African continent. The 12 river basins are attributable to this standing belief. All except the Awash River happen to be flowing out of the country's geography. Awash on the other hand, springs from Jibatina Mecha and flows down through its length and breadth contributing to the irrigations of Wonji, Koka dam, Metehara irrigations schemes where the sugar plantations are located. The river drains into the lake of the low land areas.

Facts are different with the other rivers. East African countries in particular had agreed to develop the Nile river on a comprehensive basin level. But the 1929 and the 1959 agreements prepared by their former colonizer, the United kingdom had been used as the term of reference entitling the Sudan and Egypt to share the water of the Nile.

Our forebears, the head of states who had signed the OAU charter had dreamt of forming the United States of Africa like the United States of America. Their primary target, however, was to struggle for the freedom of every colonized nation including the Apartheid Racist system in South Africa. On the economic development target, they wanted to tame the Nile river on a basin level comprehensively. This target could include irrigation schemes, fish farming, excursions by tourists and hydropower. In the course of time it was being clear and evident that this approach needed forming a common ground by all the East African countries to collectively plan to use their resources to set priorities and go forward to implement project by project not only in terms of quantitative increments but also qualitative ones.

First in sequence the "techno Nile" series of conferences were organized annually on a turn by turn basis. This conference had set targets to be 2002 as the target period by which time the socio-economic development projects could be realized. Consequently, "2002" was agreed to be the identifying name given to the subsequent annual conferences, Ethiopia being the main contributor country the ministry of Mines and energy restructured itself and formed the transboundary rivers Department. The world Bank or the IMF had influential personnel employed at key positions. These experts together with other lawyers had produced records of over a century on the annual water level of the Nile.

The Egyptians in particular, considered themselves as the gifts of the Nile river. The Aswan Dam, later christened as Nasser Dam, they believed is considered their own legal property, according to the 1929 and 1959 signed agreements, the water of which both the downstream countries, the Sudan and Egypt irrigated their respective agriculture as well as used it for inland water transportation purposes.

The Sudan had built one of the most irrigation agricultural schemes, the Gezira. This project was used to produce almost everything that could be cultivated by irrigation and human resources as well as the necessary machinery that could be used in the scheme.

Ethiopia on its part had made several surveys with the help of the American military mission known as MAG. The survey and mapping work was performed by this mission using helicopters. Several alternatives and options were proposed but to no avail. Apart from the Awash River basin one big dam worth noting was the Melka Wakena Dam Project that had its water originating from the high lands of Bole and Arsi mountains. It had about 120 MW.

However, the annual 2002 conferences were later raised to the "Nile Initiative" signed and ratified by the respective Parliaments of the respective countries. By then as upper stream countries and downstream countries. The Ugandan lawyers had stronger stands to justify the legal rights of the Nile basin countries which numbered 10.

The Blue Nile river basin contributes over 85pc of the 6,000Kms long river,which is one of the longest in the world.

The Lake Victoria sources of the White Nile flow downstream alone until they join their twin brother, the Blue Nile or Ghion at a place known as underman in Sudan. The Blue Nile which is muddy brown in color can be easily traced while flowing down stream its muddy color owing to the alluvial sediment the rivers sweeps down steam. Some of the sediments include logs and live trees and logs not to count the swept livestock's and humans as the case may be.

All those alternative studies seemed to find the decisive and historic decisions made by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He had laid the corner stone of the Great Renaissance Dam six years ago. The public contributed to the bonds according to their abilities.

The mega project was at first planned to produce power of a little over 5,000 megabytes. That Project's civil works were being constructed by Salini Engineering Company, which had proven itself on the projects of the Omo valley.

This civil work of constructing the Dam is being carried out under the most testing and challenging atmospheric conditions in three shifts daily. The location is in the Assosa Region, Guba sub region some 40Km in the east.

Mezemir, the first transboundary engineer was the Department head coordinating the transboundary projects while Imiru Tamrat, a gold medal winner was the lawyer responsible to the relevant to the project.

But, what is more relevant of the project was Ethiopia's metallic and the Bishoftu Engineering company carrying every aspect of the engineering need to function. But the project being financed by gifts and purchasing bonds is the most significant unifying chain of every Ethiopian throughout the country without ethic, religions or any difference in ethnicity or creed. The capacity has now been raised to 6,416 Megawatt improved by over a thousand Megawatt.

Hopes of fighting poverty and the frequent famine occurrence is more than good reason to celebrate although the biggest celebration is yet to come when the project gets its final objectives. In six years over 56pc of the construction of the Dam has been completed.

It may soon be time to start diverting back the flow of the river to fill the Dam on a step by step basis in keeping with the staggered schedule over the coming years.

Ethiopia

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