Just ten years ago, Ethiopia has laid the cornerstone of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a project what many described as a gear changer and hallmark of Ethiopian reawakening. The project though widely used as propaganda and political machine by the then administration has indeed been a unifying figure for a country that has been going through unimaginable pain. However as much as the progress, the country has been suffering at the hands of few kleptocrats that put their interests before the nation.
The Ethiopian people were under the yoke of oppression for nearly three decades on the TPLF officials' watch. The group's crackdown on dissidents, journalists and politicians as well as the atrocities being committed in ethnic lines and others had already pushed the country into unchartered territory. As the heart of the public resentment was also GERD, the very project that many hoped would connect them to the grid.
The construction of the colossal dam had been facing delays that further upped the ante of the public's grievances. In fact, the people of Ethiopia had stark reasons to be mad at. From farmers to Diasporas, the people have long been throwing what they have into the construction of the flagship project. To make the matter worse, the people were fed wrong data by the then government officials who had been providing cooked reports. It was until the coming of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that spilled the beans on the dam.
Speaking to the local press three years ago, Abiy who is now in his three year anniversary of his inauguration, said that the problem with GERD is how we contracted out the work. It was a project that was supposed to be completed within five years, but not a single turbine had operational yet. Most of the work has been undertaken by MetEC. This company was established by people who have the interest to develop and transform the country based on developing with our capacity. But there is a problem with the approach, according to Ethiopian Insight.
"I have visited GERD before a month to assess its progress. It is a project which bears the fingerprint of all Ethiopians and it is a ground for us to show the world that we can dream and execute our plan. So, if we fail to finish GERD, it is a disgrace for us, he added.
"After I took office, I established a team who could conduct a study on the progress of GERD, and provide feedback on the way forward. Based on the results of the finding, we canceled the contract with MetEC and outsourced it to other experienced companies. Salini has demanded compensation because of the delays." he wrapped up.
Shortly after he came to office, Abiy embarked on undertaking reforms in the length and breadth of the country and winning the hearts and minds of all and sundry in a little while despite some challenges. The premier has set in motion pulling to pieces the country's distracted past and smoothing the progress of Ethiopia's future. Among the novel turnarounds that have been brought to the spotlight by the reformist leadership of Abiy has been the construction of the GERD.
With its construction now reached 79 percent, GERD is well placed to be finalized. Successfully carried out the first dam filling, the country is now preparing for the second phase of the dam filling. These and the other corrective measures taken by Abiy have rekindled optimism among the people and the project is serving as a rally behind symbol among Ethiopians regardless of their ethnicity, economic status, gender and other denominations.
Abiy, who turned the Diasporas from protestors to ardent reform supports, was able to boost the morale of the entire community that saw the contribution to the dam soaring. The progress made in the GERD has only been the tip of the iceberg.
The Premier established a good rapport with Ethiopian Diasporas and convinced them to partake in the development endeavor of the country. Against this background they have been partaking in the development endeavor of their country including GERD. In fact, Ethiopian Diasporas have turned to be the leading guardian of the project countering misinformation and bankrolling finance to the construction.
As learned from the Ethiopian News Agency, over the past ten years, Ethiopian Diasporas were able to donate close to 50 million dollars to the construction of GERD. According to Selamawit Dawit, Director-General of the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency, the first phase of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has boosted the moral and contribution of Ethiopian diasporas.
In the present climate, as the GERD is in good hands, it is making progress in the right direction. Furthermore, it has been playing a major role in bringing about national consensus amid the various Nations, Nationalities, and People's of Ethiopia.
Dr. Eng. Tilahun Erduno, a member of the Committee for Planning and Construction of GERD model Addis Ababa Park at the office of National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the GERD and a lecturer at Adam university said, "Strictly speaking, at first the whole thing regarding the construction of the GERD was moving in the right direction. However, as time went by the situation of the dam embarked on getting off track time after time."
After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office, he got underway scaling the GERD to new heights of success within a very short time. He has been working by the sweat of his brow to make the project sees the day of light according to the plan.
As there were quite a lot of predicaments concerning contractors and subcontractors, the premier managed to get to the bottom of the problem almost immediately and made the dam move forward in the right direction. He did an amazing job. To cut a long story short, the premier has saved the GERD through hard work and determination.
He elucidated that as the TPLF leaders were in a strong relationship with Egypt and Sudan, they were doing the whole lot possible to win the hearts and minds of the latter. While on the subject, as there was division in the midst of the various Nations, Nationalities, and People's of Ethiopia, the country was moving into uncharted territory now and then.
At a loss about what to do, the TPLF leaders came up with the idea of constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. To the best of my knowledge, I would venture to say, they came up with the idea of building the dam to resolve a wide variety of predicaments that were taking place nationwide and bringing about national consensus.
"However, with time, the construction of the GERD ended up bringing about national consensus at the earliest possible time. Sad as it may sound, after three years, the TPLF officials began stashing away money overseas, "he continued.
Frankly speaking, the GERD has played a major role in bringing about national consensus amid the various Nations, Nationalities, and People's of Ethiopia. In the olden days, GERD was the only project that was carrying the name Ethiopia and brought all Ethiopians together. At that specific juncture, the name Ethiopia had no room for the ruling party. But when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power, the name Ethiopia began outshining more than ever before.
"By the way, Egypt makes use of the Nile River as a first aid to placate its internal problems. Since ancient times the issue of the Nile has been means of solution to Egypt's internal problems. As the governments of Egypt and Sudan experienced no democratic elections, their government officials come from a military coup." Dr. Eng. Tilahun underscored.
Egypt did everything possible and continues to do the same today aiming at weakening, destabilizing, and crumbling Ethiopia into so many small pieces of states to keep its dominance on the Nile. Egypt has never endeavored to resolve difficulties related to the Nile River in an orderly fashion.
Even worse, Egypt leaves no stone unturned to destabilize Ethiopia and distract the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Egypt's action in Ethiopia is unfledged, discreditable, discourteous, unethical, unauthorized, and undemocratic.
Of late, Prime Minister Abiy while addressing the House of People's Representatives said regarding the GERD, "We are facing opposition from filling the GERD with rainwater. The water flowing out of the Abay River never stopped flowing. Our plan is to develop ourselves and benefit neighbors," Despite the various challenges GERD is faced with, it will be completed as we promised. If we wait until negotiations are finalized to fill the dam, the rainy season will pass and our country will lose 1 billion dollars a year. We are certain to fill the dam without causing harm to our neighbors. We would like our Egyptian and Sudanese brothers and sisters to see that our intentions are not to harm them.
In an interview with The Ethiopian Herald Asst. Prof. Ahmed Zekari said: "Nobody denies the fact that the GERD plays a major role in bringing about national consensus. As the people of Ethiopia have been actively partaking in buying bonds and donating money for the realization of the GERD, it is directly or indirectly bringing together the various nations and nationalities. This as well shows in black and white the existence of consensus.
When the dam sees the day of light and enjoys the labor of its fruits, it creates unity in the midst of the people more than ever. Nowadays, it is moving in the right direction and the country is achieving the desired goal to some extent. GERD is not the only thing that brings together. It can be achieved through ideology, politics, peace, and security.
"The political stability of the country is very important more than anything else. Otherwise, achieving the intended target would be very difficult," he wrapped up.