Ever since its cornerstone was laid on March 2011, various elements have been raising their concerns on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Though Ethiopia contributes some 80 percent of the Nile water, for long it has not benefited from the river due to financial and technical capacity limitations. However, the decade long development has enabled the country to construct Africa's largest hydro power dam on the Nile to meet the nation's growing demand for energy.
Downstream countries, mainly Egypt, have been claiming that the construction of the Dam would reduce its water share. However, Ethiopia has been repeatedly insisted that the dam is intended for mutual benefit and would protect the downstream countries from flooding and siltation.
Ethiopia also planned to sell hydroelectric power with low cost to these countries. Therefore despite the rhetorical antagonism, in reality the dam benefits Egypt as much as Ethiopia.
Recently some media outlets have been releasing misleading and provocative information to instigate tension between the two countries. The countries need to settle such provocation and come to the table to discuss the issues to ensure mutual benefit.
To tone down the current rhetoric and to ease tensions, Ethiopia is working to organizing consultative forums. Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Taye Atske-Selassie has met members of the African Affairs Committee of parliament and discussed the issue of GERD.
On the other hand, Prime Minister_Hailemariam Desalegn would visit Cairo in the coming December. He is expected to address Egypt's parliament on various issues and mainly the positive impact of the dam.
However, as Ethiopia commences the construction of GERD after conducting feasibility studies and ensuring that it would not pose any threat on Egypt, it would not stop the construction for a second. But it is willing to continue the discussion with the spirit of cooperation.
The nation is unwavering on its aspiration and commitment to accomplish the construction of the dam as it is critically necessary to improve the lives of millions of poor Ethiopians. Last Saturday, Government Communication Affairs Minister Dr. Negeri Lencho told journalists that the construction of the dam will continue whatever it costs. And the country will sustain the construction to complete it in a short period of time as possible as it can.
Ethiopia's Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Sileshi Bekele said Saturday that 63 percent of the construction of the dam is completed and it is being constructed around-the-clock. The mega project is progressing according to the schedule, the quality and the standard that the dam of this size requires.
Currently, only 25 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity. And the country needs much energy than any
other times. The growing number of industrial parks and other development projects are major consumers of the energy. Therefore, allowing Ethiopians to utilize their natural resource is all about supporting them to get rid of poverty.
The dam might help the two countries to strengthen their historic relationship as the Nile has been the source of civilization to ancient kingdoms in its route. The ancient Egyptian, Meroe and Axumite civilizations were fetched from this sacred river. Therefore, as nations that are living in the globalized world, utilizing the river for mutual interest is order of the day. This would bring a developed continent that could support outsiders beyond fulfilling its local energy demand.