The 6th anniversary of the start of construction on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was recently celebrated in the presence of more than 500 members of the Ethiopian diaspora, Diplomats and invited guests in London, together with celebrations for Ethiopia’s Victory Day.
In an opening speech, Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra Afework recalled that construction of the Dam was launched by the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, on 2nd April 2011, with the aim of eradicating poverty and ensuring cooperation through the development of natural resources. When the cornerstone was laid, the late Premier said, “the project takes pride of place, representing an incomparable addition to our national plan for expanding power production”.
This year’s GERD celebrations, the Ambassador said, recognise the valuable contribution of the diaspora to the Dam, which in turn galvanises support for the project, ensuring a greater sense of ownership. The project plays a decisive role both in eradicating poverty and in bringing about full regional economic integration by highlighting the benefits of the Dam to the downstream countries. The Ambassador thanked the diaspora for their contributions and urged them to redouble their support through the purchasing of bonds, volunteering of technical skills and promotion of the project’s national and regional benefits.
Head of Diaspora Affairs, Fekadu Beyene, said construction of the GERD is 60% complete and two of its turbines will begin generating electricity by the end of the year, adding 750MW of electricity to the national grid. He said Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have reached consensus on the need for cooperation and the pursuit of a win-win strategy. In 2015, the three countries signed a declaration of principles in Khartoum in which they agreed on the need for fair utilisation of the Nile waters.
Most Ethiopians have contributed to the GERD and the total of pledged money now received has reached 70% (9.4 billion Birr). A trophy which was awarded to the Ethiopian people by the late Prime Minister Meles, and which is circulating around all of Ethiopia’s regions, has raised 1.4 billion Birr. A special National Lottery has raised 64.7 million Birr. Ethiopians engaged in natural conservation activities have planted over 4 billion seedlings to prevent run-off and loss of rainwater, contributing the equivalent of 47 million birr. Diaspora contributions around the world amount to $39 million. Ethiopian international professional support is also huge, with over 170 UK-based engineers supporting the project.
Diaspora community leaders congratulated the peoples of Ethiopia on the success attained so far and pledged to redouble their efforts to support the country’s flagship project, which “brought unity and consensus among Ethiopians and overall socio- economic development.”
Source: Ethiopian Embassy in London