Electro-Dollar An Ethiopian Future

The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is under construction on the major tributary of Nile, is expected to generate total revenues of two million dollars per day for Ethiopia.

The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), under construction on Abay River, has lately gained front page attention in print media. It is incomprehensible why the Egyptians chose to make an issue out of the project two years after the construction began and when the whole world already knew about it. As a matter of fact, Nile Basin development has been a major concern, involving political, historical, social and economic matters, for the riparian countries from times immemorial.

Last week, the Nile Basin and the impacts of the GERD, in particular, were the subject of an academic discussion at the right place – the Addis Abeba University (AAU) – and at the right time – when the African Union (AU) is still in a celebratory mood of Pan-Africanism. Scholars made presentations assessing the problems and the opportunities available to be seized, before it is too late.

Scholars, including Yilma Sileshi (PhD) and Yacob Arsano (PhD), who are well versed in every angle of the development of the Nile, have been arguing convincingly that the GERD will not only benefit Ethiopia and its poor people, but other countries across its borders also. The financial return of up to two million Euros a day, however, may sound too farfetched for many.

But, there is a stark truth beyond any germ of scepticism that we all know. The issue of the dam has engaged the scholars of the higher institutes of intellectuals. Cynicism and wishful thinking aside, bringing the subject forward for discussion and assessment by the relevant professionals of the country is, by itself, a step in the right direction.

Kofi Annan, the former United Nations’ Secretary-General, expressed his view, last week, that resources like oil and natural gas have become causes of civil strife and conflict inSierra Leone,Liberia, the Democratic Republic Congo,SudanandNigeria. The quest for the petrodollar has caused much blood to be shed. The natural resources ought to have availed the opportunity to mutually benefit all of the people in these countries.

Ethiopia’s renewable natural resource, water, is a blessing, not only in terms of the electro-dollar that it may fetch, but in the socioeconomic real transformation and the positive environmental impacts that it may have on climate change.

The university community shoulders the responsibility of readjusting its line of focus, if necessary, in streamlining its studies and training schedules to be transmitted to the youth. Only then can they ensure that the teaching is relevant to the electricity resource to be used in appliances, from large-scale industries to the electric ovens in the kitchens of every household.

Electricity is a self-protected energy resource. It cannot be stolen by robbers who break into the pipelines and take it away. Knowledgeable intruders may at times tamper with transmission lines, looking for the intrinsic values of the metal bars. But, these thieves can easily be controlled by technical devises that set off alarms when trespassed.

As president Yoweri Museveni explained to foreign reporters, the GERD is also a means to protect trees and encourage the restoration of vegetations. This process, in turn, will help to create a conducive environment for the creation of rain, which could enrich theNilewaters and offer downstream countries benefit from the water reserve. TheNileRiverand its banks are known to have been fertile grounds for the ancient Egyptian civilisation, which was intertwined with ancientEthiopiahistory too.

The two countries also shared the same religions. The water, as a natural resource, and its optimised usage by all riparian countries, not only boosts the required power for the growing industries in both countries, but also ensures a close scrutiny and focus on the impact of climate change.


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