A Project That Link Up East African, African Society
Several neighbouring countries of Ethiopia are showing choice of fulfilling their electric power demand by purchasing from the country. Recently, Tanzania has announced readiness to sign 400 MW power purchase deal with Ethiopia. The project brings nations towards a consensuses of utilizing the river Nile water resource together considerately. An electric power transmission to neighbouring Kenya is on progress. Ethiopia is also spreading out similar power transmission infrastructure in its neighbourhood.
According to the recent report by Xinhua, Ethiopia has made progress in hydro-power generation and also endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. Currently, Ethiopia generates 6,000 megawatts of power that can be accessible to neighbouring states.
Felchesmi Mramba, Managing Director of state-owned Tanzania Electric Supply Company, said the official signing of the power pact will be preceded by a meeting in Arusha of 10 member states of the Eastern Africa Power Pool.
Countries forming the Eastern Africa Power Pool are Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea and Tanzania.
He said the agreement will be followed by installation of power generation and transmission facilities that will not only foster economic integration but also cater for the region's power needs for the next 25 years.
"The Eastern Africa Power Pool project aims at enabling the East African Community (EAC) member states to identify sources of cheap electricity for increased power interchanges," said Mramba.
Ethiopia has been exporting electricity to neighbouring countries like Djibouti and Sudan, and the transmission line to Kenya is under construction. Burundi and Rwanda have also shown interest to import energy from Ethiopia.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is becoming the key of interconnecting the drainage countries in one upon socio-economic, political, cultural, technological, as well as other entities and in other situations.
It plays a significant role in every dimensions beyond facilitating cemented ties between nations of Africa. Among its roles in the economic sector neighbouring countries of Ethiopia are fulfilling their shortage of power and meeting their power demand. It also strengthens mutual cooperation, development and prosperity of Africa especially the East African.
According to the Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation for the Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, currently the dam is more than 50 per cent complete. Ethiopians and the Ethiopian diaspora are coordinating eagerly and supporting the project in finance, public diplomacy and environmental protection to continue until the realization of the historical project that is believed to make a change in the history of Africans.
The project which is nearing realization is facilitating the ever growing Ethiopian diplomatic ties with neighbouring countries. It is also considered as a symbol to Ethiopian nation, nationalities integrity to realize it.
The project highly stresses joint benefits of each nations. It aims at overcoming power shortage among the East African society and enhance mutual socio-economic transformation. Beyond this, it linkups and turn on the arena's society to have a commonsense regarding utilizing natural resources in negotiation and peacefully.
Negotiations on GERD base only mutual benefits. Ethiopia has already exhibited the principle of mutual and equitable benefit on its trans boundary rivers like the Blue Nile. In fact, its firm belief in equitable utilization of these waters originates from sovereignty rule which is one of the principles of the existing international law. This means, every riparian state which shares the Nile water resources is entitled with the proper and equitable share of the water.
Ethiopia has absolute sovereign right to ensure its development through the utilization of its natural resources. So, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is under construction, is the manifestation of this sovereign right. Ethiopia, from time immemorial, has been voicing its stand on the principles of fair, reasonable and equitable use of its trans boundary rivers. This stand of Ethiopia is also true to the GERD as it originates from the principle of equitable and reasonable use of the Nile.
Ethiopia believes in ensuring development through working co-operatively on such shared natural resources. This internationally accepted route has strictly been followed and has also been implemented by Ethiopia's development policies and strategies. For instance, Ethiopian is the first country which has signed and ratified the decisions of the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) following its active involvement in its long term negotiations.
Except fulfilling its power demand through the construction of the GERD, Ethiopia has not any slight plan to create discomfort on the lower riparian countries; especially Egypt and the Sudan. In addition to emphasizing this stand, Ethiopian has taken practical steps to ensure the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile water. The establishment of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) which consists totally 10 members: two experts from each of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan, including experts from Germany, France, England and South Africa is one major stride. Ethiopia, itself owner of the Dam, initiated to form this committee without any obligation, inviting in good faith the two downstream countries, as a positive gesture which is unusual. After its inception, this Panel has had first examined the different 153 documents which show the design and the overall study of the GERD consuming one solid year, and finally presented its findings in May 2013 upon the completion of the study. The Committee also recommended the study of the two issues. The following are some of the findings of the Committee as presented to the governments of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan: researching upon the design and building of the Dam is up to the international standard. The size of the Dam is proportional to the river flow, The construction site is completely safe for the Dam, The building raw materials are reliable and fulfill the desired quality, as well as whether the GERD will in turn or not any significant effect on the lower basin countries; on Egypt and the Sudan, and finally its tremendous advantages to Egypt and the Sudan.
From the conclusion of the study of the International Panel of Experts, one can simply understand some facts about the advantages of building hydro-electric dams like the GERD. First such a project does not consume water as the water hits the turbine and passes without significant change in the amount of the flow downstream. Therefore, the GERD does not minimize the water share of the lower basin countries that are Egypt and the Sudan. On the contrary, the GERD provides the lower riparian countries with a number of advantages. One advantage of the GERD is enabling the lower basin countries to exercise effective water management through releasing consistent water flow including dry seasons. Preventing floods which occur to the lower countries recurrently is the other advantage of the GERD. In addition, minimizing water evaporation, reducing silt and sedimentation and creating means of transportation are also the benefits and opportunities of the GERD to the lower riparian countries.
Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan have convened many times to discuss on how to conduct the recommended studies by International Panel of Experts (IPoE). Finally, the three countries established the Tripartite National Committee (TNC). The TNC incorporates 12 members where each country contributes 4 members to realize the recommendations of the IPoE based on its studies. The committee employs consultants for further study of whether there is an impact of the GERD on the lower riparian countries, on the hydropower system simulation models and other such related issues. The TNC convened more than 10 times so far and hired international consulting firms after tiring ups and downs. Hence, the 'BRLi' as a leading consultant while 'Artelia' which replaced the former 'Deltares' have won the international bid and are also carrying out the studies as per the agreements.
Besides the diplomatic successes registered so far, the agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DOP) which was signed by the leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan in Khartoum in March 2015 has also been the other success. This agreement has come in to the signature after being discussed, consulted and scrutinized by the experts, foreign Ministers and Ministers of water resource of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan. Actually, this agreement is a vivid sign of the countries to work in collaboration on the Nile for mutual benefits.
The agreement on the DOP underlines cooperation on the basis of mutual understanding and benefit, acting as per the international laws and principles with positive attitude for mutual benefits. DOP as a successful diplomatic step has created fertile ground for the construction of the GERD; its focus is the filling and releasing of the water in to and from the dam; the Dam's water use and its impact will be according to the international water laws and principles. In other words, the water resource management issues have been the centre in the agreement.
While there are no legal binding or traditional laws with Egypt and the Sudan, Ethiopia has initiated the establishment of the International Panel of Experts. In addition, it has permitted the investigation of a number of the GERD related research documents and different designs. Ethiopia is trying to go further from the ways customarily practiced and contribute a lot for the Nile Basin cooperation processes.
In spite of all the efforts Ethiopia exerted on the GERD, some media and intellectuals in Egypt have not yet stopped disseminating destructive propaganda which clearly contradicts the so far agreed upon GERD issues.
Ethiopia has the right to utilize any resource that exists in its sovereign boundary so long as it helps the development endeavours. All the negotiations Ethiopia participating are not for the sake of obtaining authorization for the construction of the GERD. Rather all the meetings and negotiations are to ensure whether the proper water resource management issues will be in place without harming the lower riparian countries. Then, there is no time wastage on the part of Egypt as the negotiations take place simultaneously with the construction of the Dam. The Egyptian Government is following the profitable and matured diplomatic discussions with Ethiopia and the Sudan.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is being constructed with the foremost support of all Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia as well as the Diaspora and reaching to its realization step.