The Ethiopian renaissance or nuisance dam?
By Mentesnot Zewde Berhane
The foreign minister of Ethiopia, Dr Tewodros Adehanom, noted at the gathering of dignitaries and foreign affair officials in Addis Ababa that the selling of bonds to the Ethiopian diaspora for the Abay aka GERD project was a complete failure, which is directly related to the lack of democratic rule and the ever increasing repression of the ethiopian people not as portrayed of foreign policy failure, furthermore.
Ethiopia is blessed with numerous rivers, lakes and natural resources which any organized government to the people, by the people, for the people can capitalize to realize mega projects.
Projecting and realizing monumental task as constructing a dam as huge as the renaissance dam do need a significant well thought plan through out the infant stage phases until it’s finalized. Can the current situation and government of Ethiopia finalize such a project?
Over 22 years of EPRDF aka TPLF rule, the ethiopian national interest has been overruled by the political survival of the ruling junta. At times it coincides with the national interest of Ethiopia, but at the end game always used to propagate its survival.
Ethiopia, a nation of 85 millions with abundant resources and amazing potential to easily contribute the east west international trade has been deprived of its right to the sea.
Most of all, after all the human cost of the war, the border line which has not been officially demarcated yet with two friendly nations still remaining hostile to each other since numerous years.
It has been now almost 13 years since the military confrontation of Ethiopia and Eriteria ended, the official reason being painted as of border dispute. The then africa’s most high-tech war have had unprecedented human and financial cost on both sides.
Speaking of alternative ports for Ethiopia, the port of Djibouti has been outsourced and leased for further expansion to foreign companies without Ethiopia having any influential stake, even if Ethiopia is the biggest end user of its service.
The other alternative ports is ,port sudan, which has its own geopolitical drawback if the national interest matches the ruling junta agenda and infrastructural disadvantages , moreover, the recent chinese investment of the Lamu port of kenya, with the least little influence ethiopia can have wrap up any possibilities of Ethiopia somehow co-owning a port by hook or crook.
All possibilities of Ethiopia gaining its access to the sea as of now remains bleak.
With all the human and financial cost, where human lives were considered as tradeoff chip instead of national sacrificial, the border line has been demarcated but not recognized by the Ethiopian side. The official press release on the ethiopian side indicated that Ethiopia has gained back most of its territory, to the dismay of the general public having access to foreign and independent media.
An other national interest blunder by the current regime was made public in 2004, where Sudan tribune stated that Sudan received (its) fertile land from Ethiopia with the agreement of the government of Ethiopia which was categorically and systematically denied by the former prime minister Meles Zenawi and alleged by foreign diplomats on disclosed wikileaks cables.
To the expected dismay of many, both in the political arena and the general public the current ruling junta which represented itself as a champion of protecting the interest of the smallholder farmer through controversial land tenure laws i.e laws that can easily be manipulated and controlled by, to and for the government in the name of protecting the land of the poor have displaced thousands of poor farmers mostly in Gambella, Benshangul Gumuz, Afar, around Addis Ababa and all over Ethiopia.
The displacement of the disadvantaged members of society including pregnant women and children to give way for relatively unknown business conglomerates of owning a land for 99 years a huge chunk of land as large as the size of Belgium for Karaturi global, an indian multinational based in bangalore less known in India and found guilty in Kenya of tax evasion among other counts.
A government who is still willing to give away lands in thousands of hectares for foreign investors to produce food for export while its inhabitants go hungry and depends on food aid, and is in preparation to give away more lands without achieving self sufficiency, is obviously not to the level of need of its people but to its own political survival due to its structure on ground not been all inclusive but discriminatory, which resulted of being very easily influenced by any minor interest to which it survival depends, this has been the skim of political survival for the late prime minister Meles Zenawi? Will it work in post Meles Zenawi EPRDF aka TPLF?
A government reputed for delaying the finalization of small dam projects and other projects among many others can not and will not want wind up the renaissance dam project. To the ordinary ethiopian it will remain a nuisance project but a political tool to manipulate the ethiopian nationalism of which the current minority junta has always feared since it came to power in 1991.
So Why the renaissance dam now? Why not other dams with feasibility studies already in place, with no burden of financial means to be constructed? Why not constructing all the dams that can be easily constructed and export energy who would easily contribute to the natural growth of the nation while financing the renaissance dam in the near future? Why did the current ruling junta did not take the option of developing small dams to naturally construct the ideal renaissance dam when the military, economic and political importance of the country allows to?Why the “Express dam?
The grand renaissance dam, which was pre planned from its infancy to divide ethiopian nationalism to point out anybody who is against it as unpatriotic and unethiopian and by over ruling the importance of the effect of repression to the benefit of the economy, a strategy used again and again by dictators to divert local tensions to the greater cause of a nation. A dilusion conspired that puts the minority junta as the protectorate of the ethiopian national interest while its misdeeds of giving away ethiopian interest to its own political survival remains controversial. It has been 3 years since the beginning of the project, around 20 % is already complete, no one knows when and where it will stagnate, if 3 years is for 20%, it will take 15 years to complete it with this momentum meanwhile 15 years of Abay dam propaganda and manipulation while all the possibly constructed dam could have been constructed with the resources allocated to the Abay dam, creating geopolitical drama and false hope given to the everyday ethiopians to the utmost political gain of the ruling Junta.
Ethiopians should rise against this comical tyranny, filled with clowns of the circus interest to impress the civilized, wise, astute ethiopian people.