GERD: A booster shot to a presumed twilight empire

The saga of a rising empire has just started despite the dooms day narratives that tested our waters to the limits.

This long adventurous journey has now taken its course to transform Ethiopia’s economy positioning this ancient cradle of civilization and giant symbol of freedom at the core of the Horn of African political powerhouse.

Despite the ups and downs over the past decades as seen through the diplomatic rows and the threats coming from sanctioning states, the generation of hydroelectric power from one of the thirteen units is a huge breakthrough to celebrate.

The true colour and meaning of Ethiopiyawinet has been revealed in a glorious and indomitable way leaving behind the internal, regional and global forces of disunity. The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam proved the power-public-funding drives when supported by committed citizens, diaspora communities and strong political will.

It is a ‘Yes We Can’ project for Africa and members of the Union to realise their aspirations to roll their sleeves up and strive to ground their wildest dreams of building mega projects including flagship projects of agenda 2063.

What Africa needs now is neither revitalization nor reform of the political economy status quo that brought insignificant betterment to lives of its people.

Africa, rather need tsunami like transformative measures that promote investments in road, agriculture, telecommunication, banking and energy sectors development. The traditional culture of dependency on aid and humanitarian assistance has to stop. Interstate and regional

trade exchanges need to be encouraged. Fintech models such as the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System should be improved and replicated to promote crossborder trading. Business builds economy and trust.

Business creates peace and improves intercultural relations and paves avenues for healthy regional integration. Hence, Africans need to trade each other and establish conducive platforms of commercial exchange in the continent.

Over the past decades, we have learnt the challenges of making an investment on grand projects and the political repercussions that come from powers who insist that we remain loyal allies but not influential partners in Africa.

Similarly, overturning this colonial assertion and fighting back the misinforming media portrayals still remain a front requiring Ethiopia to meaningfully act.

The mudsmearing media campaigns can be taken as attempts to internationalize and securitise Ethiopia’s hydroelectric power generation project as anti-stability and a life and death matter to people down the stream.

In this regards, the stalemates during the tripartite negotiations were deliberately politicized to trash Ethiopia’s legitimate question of developing Abbay river. However, with great support obtained from our allies at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the progressive developments at the project site, the multiple plots orchestrated by Egypt, Sudan and the Arab league were overturned a number of times.

Tabling the GERD matter, in any way, at the UNSC was an opportunity for Ethiopia to explain to the world the regional integrative importance of the project beyond bringing lights and improved living standards to millions of Ethiopians.

In the process, Ethiopia’s genuine belief in the wisdom and ability of the African Union to resolve African problems by Africa solutions was heard loud and clear.

In a gesture of diplomatic victory, its request calling for African Union to mediate the negotiation was accepted.

The diplomatic pressure, however, continued following Ethiopia’s refusal to sign into law a legally binding deal that ensure Egypt and Sudan maintain their ‘historical water rights’.

Following the attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces of the northern command by TPLF and the expansion of TPLF forces deep into Amhara and Afar territories, the pressure coming from the West in the pretext of advancing humanitarian operation had more of a destabilising intent than extending aid and halting the destructive elements of the conflict to the advantages of innocent people in dire humanitarian crisis.

The multi-front war we are still in is clearly indicative of the interest from political establishments of the West that their genuine interest is to push an agenda of strategic alliance that extends colonial type legacies completely nullifying our stakes as equally sovereign entities.

As we aspire to finalise the remaining part of the GERD project and as we yearn to see the production of power from the remaining twelve units, we also need to always think that we are in an ongoing hydro geo-political battle in the region.

The news of generation of power from the GERD, therefore, has to officially declare actions that assert Ethiopia’s leading position over the maritime space in the Red Sea region in cooperation with our allies.

This, of course, has to be preceded by measures that guarantee Ethiopians the right to freely move and get protection. Any failure and negligence that results in a comprise on the internal security, stability and national unity of Ethiopia will make this great nation a twilight empire.

The new government has to embark on an agenda that is intolerant to nepotism, injustice, corruption, chauvinism and cult building political system.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should support projects that aim at making contributions to sovereign saving through generating income from investment on fisheries, irrigation based agribusiness and tourism infrastructures.

The revenue should augment healthcare finance and expanding coverage of quality education.

As long as the competition for more strategic maritime space and securing geo-political hegemony prevails, our next move should lay a clear roadmap on that line of thought to protect and continue to maximize our benefit from the development gains we toiled for.

The GERD has been an epic journey and let this news of generating power peace, stability and unity to Ethiopia.

We will prevail under Ethiopia. Ed.’s note: Samuel Tefera Alemu (PhD) is an Assistant Professor at the Center for African and Asian Studies, College of Social Sciences, Addis Ababa University. He is reachable through: samuel.tefera@aau.edu.et

Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The


The   22 February  2022

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