GERD Is a Game Changer for Ethiopia’s Development Ambition: Scholars

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Addis Ababa August 23/2022 /ENA/ The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a game changer for Ethiopia as it enhances capacity for improved electricity coverage nationally, scholars noted.

Addis Ababa University Water and Land Resource Center researcher, Adey Nigatu told ENA  that the third filling of GERD is a big milestone as the country moves on towards completion of the dam.

‘‘We live in a country where only about 40 percent of the total population has access to electricity. The rest 60 percent of the population, which is about 70 million, has been condemned  to live in darkness,’’ she noted.

In practical terms, electricity coverage in Ethiopia is very low. The most recent World Bank estimate indicates that the per capita electricity consumption in Ethiopia was only about 70 KWH per year in 2014.  For the sake of comparison, it was nearly 1700 KWH (about 25 times higher) in Egypt in that same year. In Sudan too, it was about 260 KWH, which was again four-fold higher than Ethiopia, the researcher elaborated.

The GERD will therefore be a game changer for Ethiopia upon going fully operational, Adey pointed out.

First and foremost, it will brighten the lives of about 60 percent of the Ethiopian population who have been living in the dark with no access to electricity.

It will also relieve Ethiopian mothers cooking and feeding their families in very traditional ways by using firewood, the researcher noted.

Moreover, ‘‘the energy generated by the hydropower dam will play immense role in accelerating economic growth of the country through providing power for industries and large-scale investments.’’

The revenue to be generated from sale of surplus electricity to neighboring countries in the East African region and beyond will also boost Ethiopia’s foreign currency capacity and economic growth at large, according to the scholar.

Apart from these, the opportunities created through improved economy and trade will enhance Ethiopia’s regional collaboration and negotiating power both politically and economically, Adey stressed, adding that it also allows Ethiopia to have a distinguished role in improving the regional ties in trade and industry as well as peace and security.

Addis Ababa University Hydrology and Water Resource Associate Professor, Ermias Teferi said constructing the dam and bringing it to this level is by itself a game changer.

By producing more than 5,250 MW of power, the GERD will significantly improve the power generation capacity of the country, he noted, adding that it also makes Ethiopia a powerhouse of the region.

The dam will also enhance the country’s poverty alleviation endeavor and increase its economic development.

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