Friedrich Schiller Denkmal
Friedrich Schiller

Schiller-Institut e. V.
"Zweck der Menschheit ist kein anderer als die
Ausbildung der Kräfte des Menschen, Fortschreitung."
Friedrich Schiller

     Konferenz in Flörsheim, November 2012   

Mulugeta Zewdie Michael
Consul General of Ethiopia in Frankfurt, Germany

Written Submission

The "Grand Millennium Dam" Project

Thank you very much. I also thank the organizers that created an opportunity for me to present here, in the framework of big projects that could change the status of the economy, the world economy, and to give as an example, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project.

Before that, I just want to give you some background, why we came to the conclusion of constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River.

Ethiopia is the source of the Blue Nile, which together with the White Nile, goes into the Nile to Egypt. Now, it is obvious that this kind of water, which has an international course, has to be regulated in the agreement of all riparian countries. However, there were two agreements, among three countries between 1951 and 1957, and these were between Sudan and Egypt, and the third country was a British colony, as usual.

Now, this has to be changed. It should not be changed to the detriment of Egypt or other countries, but it should be changed, in a framework of using all the resources available, equitably and justifiably.

So, in this framework, we have been negotiating, for the last 10 years, under the auspice of the Nile Basin Initiative. So all 10 riparian countries of the Nile were negotiating for the last 10 years, in order to arrive at a conclusion, that will satisfy all the 10 riparian countries.

Now, what we have reached, after 10 years of negotiating, is that there will be a commission which is called the Nile Basin Commission, whose headquarters will be in Uganda, which is going to oversee projects among these 10 riparian countries. And that is what we were looking for. Not to use all the resources for ourselves only, and then to let the others be driven into poverty, but to use it equitably, justifiably, among all of us, and to bring harmony among the African nations.

So, this is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The decision to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a central element in the country's ambitious growth and transformation plan.

Now, why do we call it "Renaissance"? A few words on that: We now find ourselves in the third millennium. It is believed that, and it is also in the history books of the world, where in the first millennium, Ethiopia was among the decision-makers in the world. It was a bread basket, whereas, when we come to the second millennium, it is public knowledge, where Ethiopia has found itself: poverty, hunger, famine, including where the {Oxford Dictionary} has just changed the meaning, some two or three weeks ago, that if you try to find the meaning of the word "famine" in the {Oxford Dictionary}, you will find written, as an example, Ethiopia. So, now, this history should be changed, categorically. Ethiopia cannot see, forever, its population facing hunger, famine, war. But, there is a solution in its own hands. So, this was one of the solutions.

This Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, we believe, will also bring Ethiopia again into the position, where it was in the first millennium -- a renaissance of Ethiopia. It will help mobilize the necessary resources, to unlock economic development, by exporting power to the neighboring countries, and demonstrate the government's commitment to strengthen cooperation and equitable utilization by all the riparian Nile states, and the benefits, that will accrue to all of them.

As the late Prime Minister Meles [Zenawi] has indicated, Sudan and Egypt have much to gain from owning the projects, from co-owning the projects. Now, that is what we are looking for.

According to the late Prime Minister, the solution was to finance the project 50% by Ethiopia, 30% by Egypt, 20% by Sudan. Why? Because, as my colleague Aiman Rsheed knows, Egypt and Sudan, even though they utilize the Nile River, at the same time, they face also some problems. What are the problems? Egypt is facing, for example, losing to the deserts, some 10 billion cubic meters of water. It is not used by Egypt, it just evaporates. And then, Egypt's dams also have a water decreasing from time to time, because of soil [silt deposits?], when the dams are more and more filled by soil, and then start having less and less water. Now, that is Egypt's problem.

Sudan: Every rainy season -- there are three months of rainy season in Ethiopia. Within these three months, Sudan suffers from flood. The water is too high, flowing too high, on the Nile, including the capital city of Khartoum becomes flooded, every year. Now, building this Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, on the site where it is now chosen, will solve the problem of Egypt, the problem of Sudan, and it will also be useful for Ethiopia, which will bring it again back to normal. That's why it is suggested that it has to be co-owned, by three of them, co-financed by three of them, and used under the principle of equitable and justifiable use of international water courses.

The message that this project sends, is very clear: There can be no turning back, from the grandest of all projects, namely to pull Ethiopia out of the quagmire of poverty. Equally, this will create opportunities for all those who have been reluctant to participate in the past, to think again and become involved in this monument to the peoples of Ethiopia, and to their lasting commitment to the eradication of poverty in Ethiopia, and a world of cooperation among the countries of the Nile Basin and the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia's long-term potential for exploitable energy is estimated at about 60,000 MW, with hydropower providing 45,000 MW. The total potential is 60,000 MW: Hydropower can cover 45,000 MW; geothermal, 10,000 MW, and wind and other energy sources, some 5,000 MW. However, of the 45,000 MW hydropower potential, Ethiopia has so far used only 2,000 MW. Now, you can imagine the potential that could bring us out of poverty in Ethiopia.

In the meantime, to fill the needs of the current plans, for the next five years, it has been necessary to initiate a number of energy developments, one of which is the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Before this dam, there was another one, which we have seen also in the past presentation, the Gilgel Gibe III Dam, which generates some 1870 MW, which is now under attack by the so-called environmentalists, the green politicians, especially what you call "Survival International." It is a anybody's guess, who would be financing this NGO to attack Ethiopia over the use of its own water.

The objectives of this project are to generate electric power. This Renaissance Dam will generate, when it is finished, some 6,000 MW of hydroelectric power. When all projects that are now in the pipeline, are finished, we will accomplish the producing of some 10,000 MW of electricity. Now, still, the potential is higher. But even within this limit, 10,000 MW, we believe, that we will not only use it ourselves, but electricity can be exported also to the neighboring countries, far into Egypt, and it can go, over the next years across the Mediterranean, and we have, we believe, the potential of exporting hydroelectric power, including through the Mediterranean Sea, and other Southern European countries.

Now, you can see that a country having a huge potential to develop, could not develop. Why is this? And this is, I think, within the framework of what we are discussing: I think, things are not working correctly, and that has to be changed. One way of changing -- ourselves, from the Ethiopian side -- is going in this way, for example, concentrating on big projects, that could benefit not only Ethiopia, but the whole of Africa, as we have witnessed with the past presentation, by my colleague Aiman, which is also to the benefit of all African nations.

The other point, what I want to stress here, is: We do not believe that, and we have also witnessed it here, basically, that the markets could be left to decide themselves. We don't believe in that. We believe that it has to be regulated. The states should have to have also a balanced hand to regulate the markets, and it is in that framework, that we have been working for the last 20 years now. It is anybody's guess and it is a public knowledge, what Ethiopia looked like some 20 years ago, and now. We speak about a new Ethiopia, now, on the basis of the economic policy we have followed. We have accomplished, for example, that Ethiopia has registered, for the last eight years, consecutively, an average of 11% economic growth. And we believe that such kind of projects, again, will bring us into a bright future, where we can save also the next generation.

Thank you very, very much, for listening.