Ethiopia: Congratulatory Message of H.E. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed On the First Filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) On July 22, 2020

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Honorable People of Ethiopia, ladies and gentlemen, today marks the day of the announcement of the long-time coming great news, a watershed in the course of our years of toiling. This is a historic day that the first filling of the GERD comes to a completion. I would like to congratulate fellow people of Ethiopia for taking the Dam's construction to this decisive stage through collective effort.

At this very day, we, Ethiopians, have understood the ways and means of accomplishing flag-ship projects. We are once again enjoying the fruits of our success. What is more, this success has been secured in times that nobody dares to trust our capability; we have achieved it relaying on our own strength. Few failed to decipher the cause behind our perseverance on the construction of the GERD, they may consider that we have intentionally built the Dam to pose threats to downstream countries. This is far from truth.

The dam is the insignia of the current generation in proving that it can accomplish grand projects. It is a spark that sheds lights on the years of remorse for our questions are getting answered. It is an audible voice to all those that attempted to break our will in that we are steadfast to get rid of the poverty they long imposed upon us.

I guess that the world would now better understand the fact that our Dam is a turning point in our effort of taking the next height and can stand upright. Now, we behold, achieved the filling of the Dam per our schedule without soliciting finance from nobody and without harming any party.

We are just two-and-half months away from the end of the major rainy season; the precipitation is still increasing than ever. And here, God helped us that the water overtops the Dam well ahead of the schedule.

This is the time to demonstrate that our Dam, aside from not posing harm to the downstream countries, benefits the downstream states. We have no intention of harming Sudan and Egypt bothin the process of the construction and operation.

The water impoundment has been achieved without a reduction in the volume of the waters downstream which is a showcase to the truthfulness of our arguments.

Countless of generations and leaders wanted to see what we see, and listen what we listen, and involve in financing the dam, but did not attain all of them.

Abbay goes beyond lyric in songs, we have come to see that the Dam now impounds water. Lucky are our eyes that witnessed this event and our ears that have listened to this great news.

Provided that there were few that had been promoting their selfish interests under the guise of the GERD, many others sweat to its realization. They generously offered their money, labor, time and knowledge. There are also individuals that sacrificed their invaluable life to it. The sacrifices have made our dreams come true.

This is, of course, not a time to criticize one another, but it is a time to extend gratitude to one another. This day has become real due to the leaderships that planned the Dam, executives that led the project, individuals that worked round the clock at the dam site and Ethiopia's committed sons and daughters that participated in various negotiations. We may end up in days if we attempt to list our citizens that contributed to the Dam from their meager income, and people who supported us with their knowledge. And my heartfelt thanks also go to former Prime Ministers, those who participated directly and indirectly in the construction, including those who struggled in the diplomatic fora.

We as a country have a tradition of blaming and criticizing one another but lack the culture of appreciating one's good deeds. Even Abbay has been the victim of our tradition of blaming. But the blame was not without a reason as Abbay has been benefiting others while abandoning us Ethiopians. From now on, as Abbay is on the verge of benefiting and making good contributions to its motherland, we have to be able to be thankful.

Compared to the long time that Ethiopians had been dreaming about Abbay, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should have been constructed some 200 years ago. Our leaders and people had the strong will to do so. But the situation didn't allow it to happen. But we have made their dreams come true. We have seen what they wished for. We have realized what they have been missing. Victory makes one happy. But celebrating for long has two bad consequences. First, it will make one lose the victory too soon and close the door on yet another victory. And the solution is to appreciate the victory at hand and go for another. This is like climbing a mountain. If we don't move forward to reach the next level, it is inevitable that we will be forced to return back. One only can reach the top, if he/she continues to climb.

Dear the peoples of our country, I believe that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has given us a grand lesson. It taught us that the secret to victory is to remain hopeful; a national success story is written through unity and cooperation; prosperity can be achieved through continuous efforts of successive generations; and that no good thing can be achieved without paying a price.

In the governance and democratic building process, it is clear that victory can only be registered through cooperation, passing the baton from one generation to the next and continuous struggle without losing hope. Our Renaissance Dam is a living testimony to the fact that disintegrated efforts and robe pulling will only lead to destruction. But if we do not give a chance for those who separate us, if we don't open our doors for those who make us to fight with and kill each other, we will be able to register new victories in the future.

We can think, plan and realize our prosperity. We will start to be proud of our fingerprints rather than always telling and narrating the great deeds of our forefathers. For this, we have to be able to demonstrate our commitment. Even if the Dam is one of the major issues that we want to accomplish, there are a lot of homework ahead of us. Let alone others, even the issue of the Dam is not over yet. There are a lot of diplomatic activities ahead of us. The Dam has not yet started to generate power. We only achieved the first year filling. This will enable us to generate power with the first two turbines in the coming years. If we are focused and work hard in the coming two years, the dam will reach a level where it is ready to fully generate power by 2022.

Until then it is necessary to accomplish the remaining works, raise fund for its construction and carry out our diplomatic activities successfully. The other critical activity is to make sure and overcome the challenges that might hinder the effectiveness of our dam because of siltation and shortage of rainfall. For this, we have to successfully finalize our green legacy initiative which will enable us to hit two birds with one stone. If we want our rivers to benefit us, we have to cover them with forests. We should never let them erode our soils and cross our borders. There is a saying that the best time to plant seedlings was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

Our agriculture sector has been facing threats of recurrent droughts due to shortage of water. It is inevitable this threat would pose a challenge to our power generation and manufacturing sectors. Hence, before fully finalizing our Renaissance Dam, we have to be able to plant and nurture billions of trees and make sure that they are prolific. It is a must that the seedlings become forests. It is a must that all members of a family should leave their green legacy before the end of this July/August. It is a good thing that if this is the year when we establish our Renaissance family. This year's Renaissance family is expected to accomplish three things; raising fund to accomplish the remaining construction works, leaving a finger print on the green legacy and preventing the spread of COVID-19 to witness the renaissance.

As we all know, the number of people who are being infected, becoming ill and dying due to COVID-19 is on the rise. Three months ago the number of

people infected by the virus could be counted using fingers. But now it has reach to 700 and more per day. It is not mistaken to think that COVID-19 will pose a huge challenge. Coronaviruse is here and it is killing people. Denying the truth will not make it go away. Unless we face and defeat covid-19, it will harden our burden. If we do not get rid of COVID-19, it will replicate many other problems.

If we think seriously and act properly, the way out from COVID-19 and its impact could not prove tough. As far as we execute the prevention guidelines effectively and support the needy as well as scale up productivity, we will not be facing the worst case scenario.

On the contrary, if we are engaged in things that would exacerbate the spread of the virus, it would not no long before we witness a disastrous situation with our naked eye.

This year's rainy season is quite different from the previous ones in many ways. It is not a time to continue the usual way. This is the time to act that we make extensive effort to execute agricultural works using a unique strategy. We need to make sure that no land is wasted, no farmer lacks the required inputs and that no agriculture expert remains idle. We should also work to avoid food shortage that can be induced by the current pandemic. Let alone the rural population, the urban people need to accord due attention to agriculture. Our plots of land and gardens should at least be cultivated with vegetables.

Similarly, activities should be strengthened in the tourism, manufacturing, mining and other sectors. If we do these, undoubtedly, we can not only bypass the trying times of corona but also the scars the pandemic could leave in a better shape than other countries. It is through practical measures, not mere wishes, that we win the battle against Corona. It is also through exploring better alternative ways of solving problems not wishing the weakening of the problem that we make a progress. There can be no better example than GERD. Congratulation once again. Long live Ethiopia. God bless Ethiopia.

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