The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – A Symbol Of Regional Integration
VENTURES AFRICA – Ethiopia has always been the major contributor of the Nile, with its Blue Nile feeding the rainfall from the Ethiopian Highlands to the wider Nile downstream. Since the Government announced the start of construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project in 2011, with the aim of generating 6,000 mw, the project has attracted attention from a number of media outlets. The project was awarded to Salini Costruttori SPA, an Italian company which has built more than 20 dams in Europe, Asia and Africa, including the Gilgel Gibe II and Tana Beles dams in Ethiopia and is currently constructing the on-going Gilgel Gibe III dam. The electro – and hydro- mechanical work at GERD is being undertaken by Ethiopia’s Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC), while Alstom, a French engineering company, will supply turbines and generators and supervise the installation of all the electro-mechanical equipment for the hydro-power plant’s consulting work is being carried out by a joint Italo-French Engineers company.
The primary objective of the GERD project is the generation of electricity. It will enable Ethiopia to completely cover the country’s internal power needs. These have been growing at an average rate of 25% a year. A reliable and affordable source of energy is a fundamental need not just for the wellbeing of the population but also for the economic growth and poverty-reduction efforts being undertaken by the country. Many rural communities in Ethiopia still do not have the benefits in health and quality of life provided by electrical services, such as lighting or refrigeration. Ethiopia also aspires to be the green energy hub of East Africa, delivering clean and renewable energy at cost value to neighboring countries. It has already signed contracts to export electricity to Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan. According to various studies, a one unit percent increase in energy supply can increase economic growth by at least one percent. On that basis when GERD begins operations, the national economy will increase by an additional four percent. This, in turn, will provide a catalyst for mutual development, interdependence, helping create long-lasting peace between countries throughout the region.