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  • Ethiopia's bubble is not bursting - CNN

    (CNN) - After a decade of rapid growth, Ethiopia's bubble is not bursting.

    Dubbed the 'African Lion' by economists, Ethiopia is the home of booming industry, new infrastructure, and showpiece summits. It has become a powerful force in the region and beyond.

    To maintain this golden age, the East African state is pressing ahead with ambitious development plans, and renewable energy is core to the mission.

    Ethiopia was among the most daring signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to cut carbon emissions by 64% by 2030. The government has ploughed billions of dollars into hydropower megaprojects such as the Grand Renaissance Dam -- which will be the largest dam in Africa -- and the freshly-inaugurated Gibe III Dam.

    The next target is to become the wind power capital of Africa.

    The turbine of Ashegoda wind farm in Northern Ethiopia, which was the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa when it was inaugurated in 2013. The $300 million facility represents a major step forward in Ethiopia's plans to become a renewable energy powerhouse.

    Breezing ahead

    Ethiopia inaugurated one of the continent's largest wind farms in 2013 -- the $290 million, 120-megawatt (MW) Ashedoga plant. This was followed by the even larger 153 MW Adama II facility in 2015.

    But wind accounted for just 324 MW of Ethiopia's total output of 4,180 MW at the end of 2015, with the vast majority coming from hydropower.

    This picture is set to change with the government's second "Growth and Transformation Plan," which will see total output pass 17,000 MW by 2020, and a vastly increased share from the air.

    The government has plans for at least five further wind farms, and potentially many more, aiming to deliver up to 5,200 megawatts from wind power within four years. The cost is officially calculated at $3.1 billion, although other estimates place it over $6 billion.

    "We are conducting research and studying the data to see the number of plants we can connect (to the National Grid)," says Misikir Negash, head of communications for the Ethiopian Electric Power company. "It is important to have different energy sources for a reliable system. Wind is a big focus and we need it."

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  • Nile Politics: Where does Eritrea fit?

    In his recent visit to Egypt, Isaias was received at the airport in Cairo by the president of the council of ministers and by the minister of irrigation. The presence of the irrigation minister is significant since Egypt’s irrigation is synonymous to the Nile. If the visit was expected to be provocative, it achieved more than that. The fact that of all the ministers Egypt would send the irrigation minister to receive Isaias is possibly a calculated gesture given the current frustrated Egyptian agitation against the GERD. The visit must have appeared as a threat to Ethiopia even if it was not intended to be so.

    That incident would implicate Eritrea as a suspect simply because the policy of Isaias Afwerki and his government has always been focused on finding a way to entangle Eritrea in conflicts that has no dividend for the Eritrean people.

    For years, the Eritrean regime has been helplessly cajoling one side or the other to immerse itself in the Yemeni crisis. Finally, with a mediation by Sudan’s AlBashir, who plunged into the Yemeni fray earlier, Isaias attempted to be part of the Saudi led alliance in Yemen in a very humiliating manner and failed. Yet, he never gave up, but continued to cajole the UAE at the expense of Qatar, his only loyal friend in the region.


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  • It is pointless not to acknowledge Ethiopia's dam: Egypt minister

    Egypt's foreign affairs minister said Tuesday that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has become a reality and that it is "pointless to bury our heads in the sand by not acknowledging a tangible physical reality."

    File photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends a press conference on January 13, 2016 in Berlin (AFP)

    Minister Sameh Shoukry, speaking on the Egyptian El-Hayat TV channel Tuesday night, stated that Egypt is not dealing with the dam "on the basis of suspicion, doubt and exaggerated risks."

    Egypt has longed maintained that the dam – currently under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia's highlands –would affect its supply of Nile water.

    However, he did emphasise that "there are definitely clear risks [to Egypt], and we are discussing them with our Ethiopian and Sudanese partners" to reach an agreement on how to deal with any harm to Egypt.

    The minister did not elaborate on the nature of these risks.

    Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are currently conducting impact studies on the dam.


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  • Egypt says Ethiopia remains committed not to harm its Nile water share

    Egypt's foreign ministry has underlined that Ethiopian officials repeatedly deny being indifferent towards any damage that could result from construction of the country's Grand Renaissance Dam.
    Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid (Photo: Al-Ahram)

    Ethiopia's communications minister, Getachew Reda, was quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper Friday as saying that the Grand Renaissance Dam has become a "reality" and that "no matter what happens, things will not change."

    Reda stated that “Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed on the technical committees. Furthermore, we haven’t promised to stop construction work pending the completion of technical studies.”

    Egypt's foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement on Sunday that the communications office of the Ethiopian council of ministers highlighted that Ethiopia is committed to the declaration of principles on the building of the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.

    "The Egyptian embassy in Addis Ababa has directly contacted Ethiopian officials to verify the accuracy of the statements ... Ethiopian officials stressed they are committed not to harming Egypt's water share," the statement read.

    The declaration of principles signed by Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on 25 March was a step towards putting an end to a four-year dispute over Nile water sharing arrangements among Nile Basin countries. Ten principles are outlined in the document signed by the three countries.

    For several years, Egypt has raised fears over Ethiopia's construction of the $4.2 billion Grand Renaissance Dam, saying it would negatively affect its Nile water share.

    The 6,000 megawatt Ethiopian dam, set to be Africa's largest, is expected to be completed by 2017. Ethiopia has finished constructing at least 70 percent of the dam.


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  • Ethiopian dam set to generate power, Ethiopia to consult Egypt, Sudan ahead

    An Ethiopian official said Wednesday that the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) which the horn of Africa’s nation is constructing along the Nile River is due to begin generating power very soon.

    A government official at the Ethiopia Electric and Power Corporation (EEPCo), who spoke anonymously because he is not authorized to brief the media, said the mega project is set to start generating 750 megawatts of electricity.

    According to the official, the initial electricity generation will start soon the two turbines which recently arrived at the dam site and will get installed in the coming weeks. Ethiopia has ordered a total of 16 turbines from companies oversees which will enable the massive power plant project to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

    Concerns are expected to rise from the Egyptian side when the Nile dam begins generating power.

    While Sudan is seen as a beneficiary from the new dam which is at 20km from the border, Egypt fears that water in the dam’s large reservoir will be used for irrigation, diminishing downstream supply. But, Ethiopia insists that the main purpose of this project is to produce power and water will continue to reach Egypt like before.

    Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Girma Fikru, a water resources engineer in Addis Ababa said Ethiopia’s plan to start generating electricity from the power plant while tripartite negotiations are yet in progress might not be a smarter move.

    “Ethiopia’s move to start generating power in the middle of the ongoing tripartite meetings on GERD could risk collapse of the negotiations and might trigger a renewed dispute over the Nile water resources,” said Fikru.

    He said Ethiopia should first finalize a trust building activities with lower riparian countries most importantly with Egypt before starting the dam to generate power.

    The Ethiopian official however added Addis Ababa will be engaged in consultations with lower riparian countries (Egypt and Sudan) to decide on the amount of water the Dam reservoir should be holding before it launches its first phase power generation.

    The $4.2 billion huge project being constructed by the government and people of Ethiopia has so far consumed about $2.2 billion.

    Debretsion Gebremichael, Deputy Prime Minister for Finance and Economic Cluster and Minister of Communication and Information Technology said the government has no financial constraints and construction of the dam will be completed as per schedule.

    Some 4 million cubic meter concrete has so far been poured to the 1,780m long and 145m high dam.

    During their tripartite meeting last month, Ethiopia Sudan and Egypt agreed in Khartoum to speed up the impact assessment study of the controversial dam project which lower riparian countries particularly Egypt fears would ultimately curtail its historical water share.

    During the meeting, Cairo had asked for an increase to bottom water outlets at the dam from two to four to prevent significant reduce on water flow to its territory. Ethiopia however refused Cairo’s request arguing that enough impact studies had already been made and no redesigning was necessary.

    The three parties have selected two foreign consultancy firms, the French Artelia and BRL groups to undertake impact studies on the Dam particularly if there are risks that could bring significant harm on Sudan and Egypt.

    The construction of what would be Africa’s largest and amongst the world’s top ten leading power plants has been a source of dispute with Egypt which over 80 % of people depend on for water supply.

    Egypt has been taking the project as a threat to its national water security and has previously considered other options including military action to halt the dam project.

    However Egypt seems to have changed its position lately following relentless efforts to build mutual trust with the North African country regarding the grand dam project.

    Egypt’s irrigation minister, Hossam Moghazi, on Wednesday said that although Cairo is concerned about the Ethiopia’s giant dam project, the country however doesn’t view it as a “threat”.

    Moghazi confirmed that Egypt is not against the development of the Nile Basin countries in deviating from 1929 and 1959 treaties which had granted the North African nation the right to veto any projects upstream.

    Ethiopia said the project which is being constructed some 25km away from the Sudanese border is never intended to harm Egyptians but is necessary for development and should be taken as a symbol of cooperation among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

    Ethiopian officials stress that the main goal of the dam is “combating poverty and realizing development and prosperity”

    The construction of the ambitious hydroelectric power project on the African continent has reached at nearly halfway mark and is slated for completion in 2017.


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