Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that the ‘Ethiopian Diaspora Community’ in different parts of the world raised USD 2.1 Million to back the construction of the controversial 6,000-megawatt, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
In a press briefing last week, The Ministry’s Spokesperson Tewolde Mulgeta said the contribution was made during the last six months in the form of bond purchases, donation and other funding mechanisms.
Tewolde added that the ministry met 199 times over the last six months with the diaspora community through various forums. Following this, the Diaspora made active participation in the fund raising and other programs including ICT, health and educational support.
Reports indicate that Ethiopia has over three million diaspora in different parts of the globe, it was learnt.
Construction began nearly six years ago and sometime in 2017, the dam, which sits on the Blue Nile near the border of Ethiopia and Sudan, will begin producing electricity. Meanwhile, its vast 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir will start to fill, a process expected to take anywhere from five to 15 years.
According to energy experts, Ethiopia has the second highest hydropower potential in Africa, with an estimated capacity of about 45,000 MW. The GERD and the 1,870-MW Gilgel Gibe III Dam completed in 2015, will nearly quadruple Ethiopia’s electricity capacity. Excess electricity will be exported to other African countries and even to Europe and could eventually earn Ethiopia about $1 billion per year, which would make it the largest electricity exporter in Africa.
However, the dam has raised plenty of concerns. Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia’s downstream neighbors, have understandably worried that the flow of the Blue Nile will be curtailed, particularly during the filling of the dam’s reservoir.
The Blue Nile is the larger of the two main tributaries of the Nile River, and both Egypt and Sudan rely on the river for irrigation as well as electricity. Sudan’s Roseires Dam and Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile, which together supply about 80 percent of the country’s power, and Egypt’s Aswan High Dam on the Nile could all be affected by what happens at GERD.