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  • Ethiopian dam creates waves

    By years’ end, one of the world’s largest dams will begin filling up, affecting the fate of millions of people as it does so.

    Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile has been six years in the making, and is a project of staggering proportions. It will create a lake 150 square kilometres in size, produce electricity equal to a third of the UAE’s energy output and has cost 10 billion Ethiopian birr (Dh1.59bn) so far.


    The Grand Renaissance Dam on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia has been six years in the making. Getty Images

    It will also ensure a steady supply of water. Ethiopia’s fate has been to be remembered as a country of recurring drought, spawning a mini-industry of aid organisations dedicated to feeding its people in time of need.

    "The Renaissance dam which we are constructing by joining hands together is among the list of mega projects in Africa and the world, becoming a source of our national pride," the Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at a torch lighting ceremony in Addis Ababa last month, according to the local media agency Ezeda.

    The torch will be carried around the country for the next 12 months to celebrate the dam’s progress, and to thank the public for their support. According the Ethiopian government, more than 1bn birr has been raised from the sales of lottery tickets, music concerts and bonds – all by ordinary citizens.

    Reviving Ethiopia’s economy has been the prime goal of the government, following the disastrous rule of the Derg, a military junta during the 1980s. It was the Derg’s legacy that resulted in images of starving children coming to represent a once-proud country. This is something the current administration is working to change.

    By 2020 Ethiopia aims to increase its export revenue to US$16 billion, up from the current $3bn. The country has already started attracting manufacturers from China and elsewhere. Political stability, economic certainty and its proximity to the Arabian Gulf make it a choice destination for exporters.

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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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  • Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan sign final contracts on Nile dam studies

    (Reuters) – Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia commissioned studies into the environmental and economic impact of a $4 billion dam on the Nile that Addis Ababa aims to make the centerpiece of its bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

    The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam, situated close to Ethiopia’s border with Sudan and being built by Italy’s largest construction firm Salini Impregilo SpA, is due for completion next year.

    It has become a bone of contention between Ethiopia and Egypt, downstream from the dam and relying almost exclusively on the Nile for agricultural, industrial and domestic water use.

    Addis Ababa has complained Cairo has pressured international donors and lenders to withhold funding for the project, while Egypt has sought assurances the dam will not significantly cut the flow of water to its rapidly growing population.

    Egyptian state news agency MENA said the two countries plus Sudan signed contracts on Tuesday tasking two French firms, BRL and Artelia, with conducting studies into the dam’s impact.

    Gilles Rocquelain, BRL Director General, said the studies would start in late 2016 and take 11 months.

    The leaders of the three countries signed a co-operation deal in Khartoum last year to pave the way for a joint approach to regional water supplies.

    In all, Ethiopia plans to spend some $12 billion on harnessing its rivers for hydro power production in the next two decades.

    Source: Reuters

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  • Ethiopia's relationship with Egypt, Sudan not confined to Nile water: ambassador

    Ethiopia's relationship with Egypt and Sudan is not confined to just to issues relating to Nile water rights, Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt said in an Egyptian TV interview Monday.

    In an interview with the private TV station Al-Nahar, Ambassador Mahmoud Dreier said that the relationship between the three countries was "bigger than that," and that the relationships, some of the oldest in Africa, could be a set model for relationships throughout the continent.

    The Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD), giant hydroelectric dam project undertaken by Ethiopia, has been the source of contention between Cairo and Addis Ababa. Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming and drinking water, fears the dam would significantly diminish its share of the river's water.

    The interview with the Ethiopian ambassador came only hours after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn agreed during the sidelines of the African Union summit in Rwanda's Kijali to begin technical studies on the dam's hydrological and environmental impact on downstream countries in order to "reach agreement on the rules of filing and operating."

    "The truth is we have interests, Egypt has interests, and Sudan has interests. We are reviewing how to create a harmony in mutual interests," Dreier said.

    The ambassador said the construction of the GRD was in a "very developed" stage, noting that the construction of the $4 billion dam is slated for completion in 2017.

    "What was left in construction is very little. It's nearly done," he added.

    He denounced alleged attempts by the Egyptian media to report untruthful news about the dam, adding that such outlets portrayed the dam as a "devil".

    The ambassador said that this was due to the such outlets' "ignorance" of Ethiopia and its historical 90-year diplomatic relationship with Egypt.

    He added that the current series of discussions being held were not about whether the dam will be built or not, adding that the studies underway -- which will take 11 to 12 months to complete -- are related to the effects of the dam.

    Dreier said that talks between the technical committees of involved countries were being held in a manner that portrays a good relationship between the concerned officials.

    The ambassador then stressed that the dam was "Ethiopian, built by Ethiopians, and would be administered by Ethiopians," when asked by the presenter on whether a "foreign side" was going to be involved in the management of the dam.

    Dreier also discussed Ethiopia's relationship with Israel following Israeli PM Benjamen Netanyahu controversial visit to Addis Ababa earlier this month, saying that the relationship was not a "secretive" one.

    Israel launched a $13-million aid package to strengthen economic ties and cooperation with African countries, including Ethiopia, with a pledge to also provide certain African states with training in "domestic security".

    Dreier, however, stressed that Ethiopia doesn't insinuate Israel with its relationship with Egypt.

    According to the Ethiopian envoy, a sixth summit on a "presidential level" between Egypt and Ethiopia would be held in the coming months. He added that the summit will be hosted by Egypt, yet declined to mention when the summit was to take place.

    Although Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern over the dam's possible effect on the country, Ethiopia insists it will not negatively affect Egypt's share of Nile water.

    In December 2015, President El-Sisi addressed the public saying that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved.

    "I totally understand the concern of Egyptians as water is a matter of life or death," El-Sisi added.

    Source: Ahramonline

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  • Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan agree on impact studies on Nile dam

    The water and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan meeting in Khartoum sealed an agreement by which a committee comprised of experts from the three countries would be formed under the supervision of an international consultancy firm to conduct studies on the impact of the Grand Renaissance dam.

    According to the joint statement read out by the Sudanese minister of Water Resources and Electricity Moatez Moussa, the delegations of the three countries conducted “honest” deliberations for two years in an atmosphere of trust and transparency and agreed on solidarity between the three countries to conduct the two additional studies recommended by the international panel of experts (IPoE).

    The proposed committee would bring four experts from each country and would finish its work in six months time starting from the 1st of September.

    Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Hussam El-Maghazi told reporters that this is an agreement on the mechanism for implementing the recommendations of the IPoE which is important to Cairo, he said, to ascertain that its share of water is not affected and also to verify the integrity of the dam structures.

    For his part, the Ethiopian minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu said the agreement enhances confidence between the three countries but stressed that work in the dam will not stop.

    "There is no reason to stop the construction of the dam and we understand the concerns of the Sudanese and Egyptians on the dam," Alemayehu said.

    He extended an invitation to his counterparts in Egypt and Sudan to visit the site of the dam in the near future.

    The IPoE in their final report said Ethiopia’s dam project would not result in any significant harm to the two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.

    Source: Sudan Tribune

     

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