The negotiations surrounding GERD and the actual construction of the dam has remained one of the major talking points at the corridors of global conferences and media centers over the last decade. The Renaissance Hydroelectric Dam is only one of the dams that are heralding the rebirth of this country and the natural filling of the dam is reportedly going on along with the progress in the construction work. With 12 more major rivers basins that dissect the country and some of which majestically flow outside of its boundary, Ethiopia is expected to build more dams and irrigation schemes over the next several years.
With more than 112 million population to feed and with export revenue being generated from agriculture and with only 40 percent of the population benefiting from electric power supply, if it has to pace up with economic growth and development across the world, Ethiopia needs to accomplish a lot.
The Blue Nile and its tributaries have caused unprecedented ecological damages in siphoning away top soil that is estimated to cover more than 100,000 hectares of land every year, imagine thousands of precious top soil being carried away to Sudan and Egypt to enrich their modern export oriented agriculture while huge expanse of sand dunes and rugged mountains in northern Ethiopia are left with no vegetation.
Although marked efforts have been made in promoting afforestation and soil conservation in this country, the accomplishments so far are far from the extent of the deforestation that occurred in Ethiopia over thousands of years.
It would be difficult to assume that planting billions of trees in the form of campaigns only during the rainy season could bring total afforestation of the depleted forest of the country. Community based participatory rehabilitation and soil conservation programs in Ethiopia need to be conducted throughout the year. In this respect, conducting practical public education programs by combining traditional and modern means of soil and forest conservation on the hill sides in every part of Ethiopia should be accelerated to ensure sustained level of water supply to keep enough water in GERD and other present and future dams to be constructed.
Ethiopia intends to increase its power supply from current 4,000 MW to more than 17,000 MWs over the next 10 years but if further efforts are made to exploit more electrical energy from other power generating schemes, the nation can produce more.
No country in Africa is as abundantly endowed with perennial water resources as Ethiopia is. For instance by producing export quality fruits and vegetables from irrigated farms on Wabi Shebele, Awash, Baro, Alwero, Akobo, Ganale, Dawa, Borkena, Dabus, Birbir and Didessa rivers, Ethiopia would be able to supply horticulture products to the Middle East, Europe and Persian Gulf. This country is indeed sitting on a huge carpet of natural liquid jewelry that could be widely exploited to pull the nation from abject poverty.
Besides, Ethiopia can now begin to think of fish processing factories in the vicinities of GERD, effectively revolutionizing not only the national intake of the population but for export to countries near and afar. In addition, dams like GERD and Gebe III have huge potential for the development of tourism.
Egypt clearly understands that Ethiopia's technical and operational arguments on GERD have sound scientific basis and that is why they have decided to implement three levels of strategies in politicizing the otherwise technical issues on GERD.
First, they have been working on trying to sow discord between the Arab League members and Ethiopia by spreading false and hateful propaganda in the Arab countries to discourage their future and current investment programs in the country.
On the other hand, they are trying to persuade countries of the Horn to raise their concerns on Ethiopia's plan to utilize its Transboundary rivers that cross into Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti.
Third, they fully understand that GERD will enhance Ethiopia's GDP by at least 10 percent by providing cheaper renewable energy for Africa and in turn attract foreign investors with sustainable and cost effective power supply. They are doing all they can to sabotage such potentials.
The Egyptians sometimes question the quality of our ultramodern dams at other times they try to falsely predict that seismic tremors could lead to the collapse of the dam and result in huge earthquake that would affect the whole region. At other times they jealously question the capacity of our hydrologists and electro mechanic engineers.
All told, with completion of GERD, Ethiopia will be a strong well rooted and positioned economic power in Africa and will attain further visibility in the UN systems, AU and IGAD. By further developing its natural gas resources, wind farms and solar energy potentials Ethiopia will continue to be the biggest renewable power supply source in Africa and the hub of Africa's economic development with its future role in CfTA.