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Energy Policy Discussed at GERD Construction Site

Located approximately 500 km north west of the capital Addis Ababa, in the region of Benishangul – Gumuz along the Blue Nile, is the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Once finished, the GERD will be the largest dam in Africa (and eighth in the entire world). Since its announcement, it is a project that is the pride of Ethiopia. The GERD is part of a wider Ethiopian strategy to secure long-term food and energy security.

On May 11th, 2017, during the visit of Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former German Minister of Justice, to Ethiopia, high-level government representatives discussed the various impacts of the construction at the GERD site near Guba. Chief Engineer and general manager of the construction project, Simegnew Bekelle, briefed the delegation on the status of the construction. Dr. Jacob Arsano, vice-chair of the National Panel of Experts for GERD, then referred to some of the tensions between the riparian countries of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Dr. Däubler-Gmelin shared the lessons learned from the successful common management of the Danube River in Europe, where seven countries worked together in water resource administration, even during the Cold War.

Given the favorable political will on all sides, the same could be achievable among the Nile Basin countries. Nevertheless, changes in the hydro-political landscape are real. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have come a long way to work together: agreements have been reached, principles have been established and a joint commission has been discussed. From an Ethiopian point of view, the GERD project underlines the country’s commitment to the eradication of poverty in Ethiopia as well as in the other the Nile Basin riparian countries.