The Nile River (Ethiopians call it Abay) is the longest in the world. Though Ethiopia contributes more than 80 per cent of Nile water, it has not benefitted from it so far. Rather the downstream nations have been taking advantage of utilizing it for hydroelectric, irrigation and fishery purposes. They did not realize Ethiopia’s right to harness its natural resources.
Realizing the chronic need for power to the ever-growing economy, the Ethiopian government has decided to harness the river by constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the Benishangual Gumuz state. Upon completion, the dam will be the largest in Africa and it will be expected to lift millions of Ethiopians out of total blackout. Not only this, it would change the economy tremendously. That is why all Ethiopians, irrespective of their ethnicity and religious background are striving hand in hand to realize it.
GERD, its construction started in 2011 would celebrate its 10th commencement anniversary. The Grand project would have a massive role in fulfilling the power deficiency of the nation and facilitating rapid economic growth. Besides, the project would enhance Ethiopia’s capability and determination of executing other mega projects.
Regarding public involvement and determinations, Ethiopians from every corner of the country and all walks of life have been diligently participating to realize GERD. Office of the National Council for the Coordination to the Construction of GERD insisted that public involvement and eagerness to finish GERD is still high. Ethiopians are expressing their commitment to finish it.
Public Relations and Media Communication Director at the Office, Hailu Abraham says that Ethiopians at home and abroad have been contributing their money, energy and time to realize the project. They know that the dam would lift them out of abject poverty and it motivates them to conduct similar projects.
“The Dam is a symbol of unity, togetherness and determination for Ethiopians. It gives us that we can construct such projects by our capability if we stand together. We have to step up our contribution,” he explained.
The other very important issue concerning the project is technology transfer. Especially it has a significant role in enhancing the construction sector. As Yeshialem Mulu made research on construction technology development, the expansion of new construction technology is tremendous. New construction technologies paved a way for producing skilled manpower in the sector. As far as GERD is concerned, renowned construction companies are participating in the mega project. The involvement of local and foreign companies in GERD construction is playing a vital role in transferring skill, knowledge and technology and this would be very important to the technological transformation of the country.
In 2019, Ethiopia has reached contractual accords with five international companies- Sino Hydro, CGGC, Voith, GE Hydro France and XD to recommence electrochemical and steel structure works of the flagship dam project, according to ENA.
Project Manager Kifle Horo says the dam project has three main components including civil works, electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure and local and foreign companies are operating their responsibilities effectively.
CGGC is working on the waterways of hydraulic steel structure and bottom outlet while GE is on the turbine generator part and Voith Hydro Shanghai-responsible for turbine generator and balance of plant-has two contracts whereas, GE Hydro France is responsible for the electro-mechanical, Chinese XD for components, Sino Hydro for hydraulic steel structure of the normal unit and CGGC for early generation and bottom outlet hydraulic steel structure works, as to the project manager.
Besides, Salini-Impregilo’s experience in Ethiopia, and teaming with Studio Pietrangeli have demonstrated that large infrastructure projects can be efficiently implemented using a fast track approach and they have the huge capability of their technological know-how to local companies, Hydro Review explains. This has been witnessed in other nations as well.
Moreover, various technological tools are being used in GERD and their experience sharing to local companies is massive.
With a zoom-in approach, different technologies are utilized in design investigation, satellites (200 km), airborne laser scanning (2 km), drone-aided photogrammetric (200 m) and “giraffe technique” (10 m) are being used for topographic and geological surveys, its notes.
Not only this, HR underlines the need for drones, equipped with a digital 16 Megapixel camera, internal GPS and various sensors that include ground proximity, temperature, altitude, wind velocity and direction, were employed to prepare detailed geo-referenced ortho-photos, orthophoto mosaics, Digital Terrain Models (DTM) and contour lines.
Generally, Ethiopia is showing an astounding determination and commitment to realize Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam using its capability. Besides public devotion and determination, foreign companies which are involving in the mega project have huge significance in transferring their experience, skill and technology. This would help the nation to possess the capability of undertaking further mega projects.