The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

FM: Public Support Key to Get GERD over Finishing Line

ADDIS ABABA – Authorities issued a rallying call for all Ethiopians to continue support to get the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) over the finishing line.

The construction of the €3.48-billion hydropower construction project on Abbay River, solely financed through domestic sources, is now 90% complete.

The National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the GERD held a forum on the flagship hydropower project on Saturday.

Speaking at the forum, Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonen said the flagship project has reached the final stages, thanks to the efforts of Ethiopians from all walks of life.

The public participation, he said, in the GERD brought in encouraging results in the ongoing construction project that will elevate Ethiopia.

The East African nation officially broke ground on the hydroelectric dam construction project on April 2, 2011.

Since then, more than 18 billion Birr has been raised from the public through GERD bond sales as well as gifts via 8100 short text messages and other mechanisms.

Deputy PM Demeke noted that citizens are at the forefront in “doing a proud work that will pass on to generations”.

“This shows how capable we Ethiopian are when united,” he said, calling for the continuation of the support continue to take the project to its chapter.

Saturday’s forum also assessed the preparations to mark the 12th year anniversary of the launch of the construction project in the Guba district of in Benshangul-Gumuz Region.

“While celebrating the laying of the foundation of the Dam, we should also sustain the achievements registered in the diplomatic sphere,” Demeke added.

He also reiterated Ethiopia’s stand to continue participating in the African Union-led tripartite talks over the dam.

The Dam, which started generating power last year, has been a source of a decade-long diplomatic standoff between Ethiopia and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.

Khartoum and Cairo claim they fear the dam could reduce the water flow of the Nile River whose over 86% of water originates from Ethiopian highlands. Addis Ababa disputes the two lower riparian countries, insisting the project is a hydroelectric dam that will key to provide more than 60% of its citizens’ access to electricity.

As Egypt continues to suggest that a military option could stop the dam’s completion, Ethiopian officials argue the multi-billion dollar mega-dam project can be a source of cooperation among Nile countries.

Demeke stressed that the GERD is a project that will benefit all the riparian countries, stating a backward approach that the river is only meant to benefit one party is unacceptable.

Presently, two turbines with a combined generating capacity of 750 MW are producing power following the conclusion of the third round filling of the reservoir in the last Ethiopian main rainy season.

Once completed, the GERD will have an installed production capacity of 5,150 MW, able to produce an average of 15,700 GWh every year.

Last week, authorities launched a one-month-long campaign in Assosa city to raise over 100 million Birr from the public.

More fundraising programs are also scheduled in a bid to strengthen the public’s support for the construction of the dam.

The backing shown so far to the GERD is a “history that makes the next generation proud,” Prosperity Party Vice President, Adam Farah said. And the support to the construction has to be strengthened until the dam is completed, he added.