“No Matter How Poor We Are, Ethiopians Will Pay Any Sacrifice,” – Meles Zenawi
By Hasset Assefa
Two solid years have already elapsed since Ethiopia launched the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD). When the news was first declared to the public by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (let his soul rest in peace), some had qualms about the candor of the news, and few others even uttered mindless words as if the premier were hallucinated. And still others rambled on the news out of envy with an attempt trying to rock the boat. Today, the premier is not here with us. His preaching and prophesies, determination and courage are, will, always be in the heart of a multitude of Ethiopians. What is left to us of him—the legacy—is like an egg laid by a bird which the rest of us are striving to hatch it today with diligence and great care not to spoil it.
Yes, many people presumed that the GRD would be inconceivable to a country like Ethiopia as the nation has been known for being stricken by recurrent and rampant drought for many years in the past. But such a leery spirit is perhaps being made history now a days. Dealing with the lower basin countries regarding the Nile issue by itself is trying and tempting that demands diplomatic brilliance, determination. Besides, mobilizing the public towards the same development goal is another. Meles had been doing all these assignments before he passed away, what is left for us is the physical effort.
When the GRD project was officially commenced on April1, 2011, Meles assured the world in his speech saying ‘Ethiopia will never stop constructing hydro power dams following the lack of external support.’
“No matter how poor we are, in the Ethiopian tradition of resolve, the Ethiopian people will pay any sacrifice. I have no doubt they will do it for they, with one voice, said, “Build the Dam!” We recall him saying the above expression exactly at the commencement of the project.
Exactly two years later, Ethiopians have reaffirmed the world that the construction of the GRD is well underway in accordance with the time table, as was prophesized by the late premier. Prime Minister Haile-Mariam Desalegn, a favorite disciple of our former leader Meles Zenawi, lately disclosed while addressing the House of Peoples Representatives that so far 19 per cent of the GRD project has been completed.
A fortnight after the premier’s remark, Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Mursi told the media that Ethiopia will not do any project that will harm the interest of Egypt, implying that no other alternative is there for the Nile Basin Countries than negotiation though the agreement from Egypt and Sudan is still awaiting.
The government of Ethiopia does not have the slightest doubt that the construction of the GRD will not face any obstruction and will be completed in the coming few years. Well-tailored action plan of the overall project during and after the completion of the dam has already been made beforehand. For instance, the Chinese government and Ethiopia has signed an accord lately at Sheraton Hotel to kick off the installation of transmission lines from the GRD to the main national grid in Addis Ababa. The total cost of the project was 1.2 billion dollar; out of which China pledged to loan 85 per cent of the project cost, and the balance to be covered by Ethiopian government.
The transmission lines that cover a distance of 700 kilometers from the dam to the national grid will cross the towns of Dedessa, Holeta and Sebeta before it reaches Addis Ababa. The lines do have double circuits having the capacity to carry 500 kilo-volt; the biggest of its kind ever constructed in the country.
The Chinese ‘State Grid’ company-an electronics producer and distributor and high ranking government officials of Ethiopia signed the accord which is estimated to be finalized in 24 months.
Nothing is a better indicator than the agreement signed and stated above regarding the commitment of the government and people of Ethiopia towards the successful completion of the GRD. Before going through, it is better to recall further on what Meles once said with regard to the GRD and the hustles revolving around it as all put word by word as follows:
“As you all know, and our rapid economic development activity has underlined, we are determined to eradicate poverty from our country. We are fully aware that in this struggle against poverty, many friends stand with us; our gratitude to our development partners is limitless. Before we mobilized our efforts to eradicate poverty, centuries of impoverishment curtailed our development and restricted us from exercising our right to use the resources of our own rivers. Now, thanks to the dedication of our peoples, we have safely put those times behind us. We are close to opening a new chapter through the realization of the Grand Renaissance Dam. Henceforward, nothing can stop us from exercising our rights; the other dams we plan to build are less challenging than this, the Millennium Dam. So, the first message is that we have not only a plan but we also have the capacity to assert our rights.
The intention to exercise our rights to use our own rivers is in order to successfully do away with from our soil. It shows no malice to any of our neighbours. Among the concerns we factored in when we made the decision to build the Nile Dam with our own resources, was to avoid any negative consequences for our neighbors and indeed to offer positive benefits for all of them. I would dare to say that nothing can provide a better testimony of our deepest commitment to forge a lasting partnership between all the Nile Basin riparian countries than the building of the GRD.”