ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has appointed opposition leader Aregawi Berhe as a head of an Office that is responsible to coordinate public participation in the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Prime Minister appointed Dr Aregawi “as Director General of the Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation to the Construction of GERD as of October 14, 2020”, said his office in a statement issued today.
Aregawi, one of the founders of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and a powerful party in the northern region of Tigray, is currently in charge of the opposition Tigray Democratic Coalition Party.
After a long period in exile, Aregawi returned home in 2018 following Prime Minister Abiy’s call for political dissidents who were living abroad, to come home and participate in peaceful political struggle.
He has been engaged in active political participation and related activities such as national inter-party dialogues, among others, since his return.
Aragawi is now in charge of a renewed effort of sustaining the public support for the construction of GERD, a major project Ethiopia is building without external support.
Lot of Works Await him
His new Office announced, earlier this week, its plan to further expand the various fundraising platforms to enhance the public participation for the construction of the dam, which is 76.35 complete and expected to start generating power with its two turbines at the end of the current 2020/21 fiscal year.
Fundraising platforms through mobile SMS, bond purchase, and financial grants will continue with increased participation from both Ethiopians at home and in the diaspora community, Hailu Abraham, spokesperson of the office, told state-run news agency ENA on Tuesday.
Last year, the office’s effort, despite the impact of COVID, was able to raise 745 million Birr of its 1.2 billion Birr target.
Aregawi is now tasked to help the office achieve its targets to secure up to 2 billion Birr during the current budget year.
Ethiopians have so far contributed over 13 .9 billion Birr to the construction of the dam, which consumed 121 billion birr and need additional 40 billion Birr investment for it to be complete.