Ethiopian Opposition Questions Construction of “Renaissance Dam”
By Staff Reporters
April 26, 2011 (Ezega.com) -- The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Forum, commonly known as Medrek, fears foreign aggression against the country due to the construction of “Renaissance Dam", as the government calls it. Medrek released an official statement questioning the government about its preparedness to face any foreign aggression against the dam, saying that hydro-politics is often a source of mounting conflicts in the 21st century.
Medrek, which was the main opposition party before the recent elections, asked the Ethiopian Government if it had taken Nile Basin members into confidence about the construction of the dam. Raising doubts about corruption, it also asked the government whether it had prepared a mechanism to ensure that the public money was directed toward the targeted project and that there was no frittering away of the taxpayers’ money by corrupt officials.
Medrek also called for reaching a national consensus on the construction of the dam in Benishangul region, which will likely generate 5,250-MW power. The government recently announced its willingness to go ahead with the construction of the dam, which would cost 80 billion birr, to exploit the abundant resources of energy in the country. The government has rejected “unsubstantiated” claims as they call it that the dam would cause significant harm to downstream countries. It has assured Ethiopians that Egypt cannot do any harm to the project, though Cairo has been successful in lobbying global financial institutions from financing the project.
Touted to be the biggest hydropower plant in Africa, it is expected to be completed in four years. Ethiopia is said to have over 45,000-MW potential of hydropower. The Ethiopian Government will finance a major chunk of the project. It also seeks remittances from overseas Ethiopians under the GTP project. Further, the government has started issuing Millennium Bond, giving five percent interest rate, to finance the project.
The government of Prime Minister Meles has also declared that the dam, which is at a low level, would do no harm to the Nile riparian states, but rather, generate hydropower to meet the energy needs of these countries. It further claims that the dam would prevent flooding and siltation, which would actually help increase the flow of water in rivers and their tributaries.
The Ethiopian Government terms Egypt an “obstacle” to its development.
The British Embassy in Ethiopia lauds Addis Ababa’s commitment to the GTP and its proposal of constructing Renaissance Dam, saying that it should do more to meet its energy demands by exploiting its huge hydropower potential and building more dams. British Ambassado Norman Ling agreed that the Nile waters should be equally apportioned among its basin countries, facing energy crunch. He also intimated his country’s promise to help Ethiopia’s development efforts, saying that the United Kingdom might increase the development aid to Addis Ababa.