22 September 2017

Ethiopia: Keeping GERD Funding Tempo - Action Speaking Louder

The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has seen 60 percent completion. The government as well as Ethiopians at home and abroad is financing the construction worth 4.8 billion USD. Upon completion, the hydro-dam and the resulting artificial lake behind the Dam would evidently benefit most riparian particularly those in the downstream - both in supplying power and regulated flow of water. Ethiopians' are supplying the entire inputs required for the construction. Apart from funding the project, Ethiopian youth are also burning the candle at both ends at the site of the construction.

The people's zeal in making the Dam a reality has been increasing by leaps and bounds. Ethiopians have never shunned from seizing all kinds of fund raising opportunities. The GERD Trophy and GERD Bond have still been involving all segments of the society in funding the construction. A considerable amount of money had also been collected as a result of GERD Tombola and GERD Lottery, says GERD Public Coordination Office Communication Director Hailu Abraham.

"The GERD Trophy, GERD Tombola and GERD Diaspora wing have helped us get 10.3 billion Birr only this year."

In addition, the Diaspora community has also been contributing in kind to foster the Dam's construction. The Ethiopian Diaspora Community in Dubai for instance bought and sent a Toyota RAV4 vehicle.

This year alone over 1.3 billion Birr has been collected from the Diaspora community.

To the surprise of all, the public's commitment of funding the project is showing a marked increase year in and year out. For instance, in the initial days of the GERD trophy tours in Amhara and Oromia States 432 million and 600 million Birr were secured respectively. And 1.1 billion Birr has been secured as a result of the GERD trophy fund raising tour in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' State, Hailu points out. The tour is yet to be completed.

Moreover, public servants have also continued their contribution, most of them for the seventh and sixth round.

The exemplarily deeds of Ethiopian are not limited to creating a pool of finance, the people, particularly the farmers, are also working tirelessly to increase the volume of Nile Waters by protecting and conserving the Nile Echo-system in the Ethiopian boundary. In this respect, the labor cost which has been incurred to transplant seedlings and construct conservational structures, among other similar works, has hit 49 billion Birr.

Thus, any activity by Ethiopian farmers which impacts positively on the waters of the Nile is a recipe to strengthen the socio-economic benefits of fellow people of the basin countries, and downstream countries are the major beneficiaries. It is also a living monument for posterity. The benefits which could conspicuously be seen upon the Dam's completion would let the generation learn how the millions of peoples living in the basin system can utilize the resource to their development and beyond.

The self-financed flag-ship project has won the hearts and minds of many east African countries. Hence, countries like Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia are some of the countries that have shown keen interest on importing energy from Ethiopia.

From this point of view, one can say that Ethiopians are not only contributing to the Dam, but they are also doing their best to foster the regional economic integration.

The government, apart from coordinating the task of financing the Dam, has also been engaged in a series of diplomatic works to convince the riparian countries and the international community on the benefits of the Dam.

The government has put in black and white that Ethiopia has no any intention to harm any downstream country.

In addition to emphasizing this stand, Ethiopians have taken practical steps to ensure the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile water by signing and ratifying the Cooperative Framework of Agreement on Nile (CFA). This document is later signed and ratified by Rwanda and Tanzanian. South Sudan, Kenya, Burundi and Uganda have signed it and most of them are in the process of ratifying the document.].

The establishment of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) that consists of 10 members: two experts from each of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan, including experts from Germany, France, England and South Africa has been one major stride. Ethiopia, itself owner of the Dam, initiated to form this committee, inviting in good faith the two downstream countries.

The GERD does not minimize the water share of the lower basin countries, Egypt and the Sudan in particular. On the contrary, the GERD provides the lower riparian countries with a number of advantages. One advantage of the GERD is enabling the lower basin countries exercise effective water management through releasing consistent water flow including in dry seasons. Preventing recurrent flooding, minimizing evaporation, reducing siltation and sedimentation would be some of the generous contributions of Ethiopians as a result of the Dam and the environmental protection works which have been carried out in the river system in the Ethiopia's boundary.If this writer has said this much about Ethiopians contribution and the GERD's benefits, it suffices to include the moral responsibilities the riparian countries.

In this regard, the riparian countries need further boost their cooperation. The GERD is an example a 'can do' mentality. Indeed, the riparian countries can not only accomplish projects on their own, but they can also do miracles. The magic wand to do that is obvious-cooperation. And the ticket to get on board the cooperation board is signing and ratifying the CFA.

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