Ethiopia: GERD – a Reward to Downstream Countries

It might be unfair for a country endowed with copious water resources suffering of thirst and hunger for years but that was a reality. Sadly, although Ethiopia is endowed with abundant water resources, it has only utilized an insignificant amount, nearly 3 per cent.

However, there is government and public mobilization to build mega dams including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is expected to play a significant role in the country’s poverty alleviation and in regional economic integration. This historic Dam, designed to generate more than 6000 Megawatts of electricity with artificial lake covering 187,400 hectares, is entirely financed by the government and people of Ethiopia.

It is one of the projects that brought all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia together. All citizens residing both at home and abroad have been participating in the building of the historic dam either through money contribution or bond purchase.

Under its completion, the Dam will contribute a significant role not only to speed up poverty alleviation schemes of Ethiopia but also to enhance regional economic integration.

It is also believed to elongate the ages of downstream dams including the Aswan Dam. According to a study made under the title of “Sedimentation and Erosion issues at the High Aswan Dam,” by Kazuhiro Yamauchi, the Dam has encountered with sedimentation problems every year that could diminish its service years.

It is known that the Aswan Dam is built in 1970. It served the country for about half a century and generating 23 per cent of the total power in Egypt. But it is usually challenged by sedimentation of about 70 cubic meters annually. Currently, the estimated service time of the Dam is 500 years; even some studies predicted it to be about 310 years.

“The estimated load of sediment at El Diem, the entrance of the river to Sudan, and at the Aswan Dam is 140 and 160 million tons per years. Nearly 90 per cent of the sediments is from the Blue Nile,” El Monshid et al (1997).

However, there is good news from the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam. There is a ray of hope that GERD will rejuvenate the Aswan Dam. According to recent research findings, the completion of GERD will enhance the age of the Aswan Dam for some hundred years through sediment control.

GERD is to invigorate the 50 years’ old Aswan Dam. But there is misconception about its emergence that Egypt repeatedly expressed its refutation since the launching of the Dam. However, the Sudanese government understood soon the importance of the Dam to all countries in the region.

Many political analysts argue that Egypt will realize all the misunderstandings it has perceived today when it began to enjoy the fruits of the Dam. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, downstream countries could enhance their irrigation system so as to maximize their productivity; thereby, developing their industries using power from Ethiopia with the minimum possible cost. Therefore, the construction of GERD will be an opportunity for downstream countries to decree their industrial revolution so as to facilitate their overall development.

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