GERD: A project at the right place
The 7.8 million cubic meters Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) that has been used in the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project becomes a world record in the history of Hydro-Dam—well ahead of the Dam's completion.
The overall progresses of the Dam also reached 64 percent. The Dam becomes the major agenda of every Ethiopians since its commencement on April 2, 2011.
More than 400 journalists from various international media houses visited the site and reported progressive stories of this Ethiopian flag-ship project. Similarily, More than 260,000 people visited the project since its launching.
The Dam has also brought paradigm shift in Ethiopia and all the other regions in all affairs [political, economical and social].
The dam’s construction has been carried out using latest water technology, and domestic as well as foreign construction guru is partaking in the process, as noted by Eng._Simegnew Bekele, GERD Project Manager.
With its reservoir capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, the Dam would connect Ethiopia and neighboring countries, according to him.
Even now, Djibouti and Sudan are getting hydro power from Ethiopia. And the GERD project, up on completion, would boost their benefits in the energy scheme.
Many Eastern African countries and Egypt from the north have demonstrated their interest to purchase power from Ethiopia which according to the manager would be possible when the GERD enters full operation.
The GTP II has set goals to increase the power generating capacity of the country. By the end of the plan period, 2019/2020, the ambition is to reach the power generating capacity to 17, 347 MW. It is a huge leap frog when one looks at the base line years’ capacity. In 2009/10, for instance, the national power generating capacity stood at 2000MW.
This figure jumped to 4, 180 MW by end of 2014/15. Power generated from Gilgel Gibe III, with an installed generation of 1870 MW, and wind and solar powers, which entered operation phase, are among the new entries that improved the stated generatin capacity.
Simegnew is quite sure as to the realization of this ambition, particularly when the grand project sees completion.
Besides power generation, the Dam is monumental in reducing silt and sedimentation to downstream countries—Sudan and Egypt.
Researches including from Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity indicates that the Dam will highly reduce the quantity of silt that accumulates in Sudan, enabling Khartoum to save annually up to 20 USD million.
Similarly, it helps to reduce silt at Aswan High Dam in Egypt while contributing to a regulated flow of water all the year round in the basin system. In other way round, hydro-dams at downstream would have better efficiency.
On top of this, it also avoids risk of flooding which affects people and razes infrastructure on the banks of the river in Sudan.
The lake that would lie behind the Dam would also be employed to navigation [transportation], fishery, recreation, tourism, among others.
The regulated flow as well will improve agriculture as evaporation is kept at minimum at the highlands of Ethiopia.
Clean energy generated here is advisable to manage the increasing critical challenge of global climate change.
Eng. Simegnew underlined that the project site will be a preferable destination of well furnished service providers like hotels, lodges and transportation services in the future.
These blessings have clearly understood by most of the basin states and countries such as Sudan have increased their diplomatic cooperation more than ever.
Since the Dam’s commencement, cooperation in the basin states have increased to a great level. The blue print of cooperation in the Nile states, Cooperation Framework Agreement on the Nile, was signed by the majority of the countries. Three countries, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania endorsed the document, while South Sudan, Kenya and Burundi are expected to pass the document soon.
As the project is the largest hydropower program in the Eastern African countries, which enhance the aspirations for sustainable socio-economic development, prosperity and peace in the region, the riparian countries have responsibilities to pass the document.
Not only this, the project have also untapped capacity of brushing up drought and desertification in the region. The project can be taken as a concrete case for upstream-downstream cooperation for equitable and reasonable utilization of the shared water resources and as a means of sustainable benefit sharing among the Eastern Nile Basin countries.
“The construction process is going at its pace even if the rocky project location is the leading examinant to GERD engineers and workers. We utilized this rock as our dominant query site,” he said.
Ethiopia is a remarkable land of hydropower in the world. GERD Electric power transmission lines installations have already finalized and the transformers are locally made.
Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) has been carrying out the hydro-mechanical works.
Opening photo exhibition recently entitled: ‘GERD is our source of peace,’ GERD Council Deputy Secretary General, Fikertamer Wondemagen, indicated that METEC, which evolves from the wombs of the Defense Forces, has done remarkable job. “It upgraded the installed generation capacity which was 5,250 initially to 6,450.”
The Defense Forces have also been playing a dual role over the last years—protecting the security of the Dam and purchasing GERD bonds, she pointed out.
Every section of the Defense Forces proved their commitment by purchasing bonds. To cite, Addis Ababa Police Commission has bought bond worth 89 million Birr, a 2010 publication states.
In a nutshell, GERD would surely come to full completion soon with the increased ferver of the people of Ethiopia, and it would register more records along the course.
BY TEWODROS KASSA