Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Making the Headlines--- ITYOPIYA
24 March 2014 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
This piece of writing is merely a limited research compiled from different sources and personal understanding. It is neither a result of any proper research.
World Bank Projections/draft report of June 2013/ indicate that “Ethiopia could potentially reach middle-income status by 2025 if the historical growth momentum can be sustained. This, in turn, may require a change in economic strategy and the way in which growth is achieved. The current “big push” of public investment-led development has delivered very positive results. However, the development of a strong and vibrant private sector would eventually be needed to sustain high growth, as the experience of other high performing countries demonstrates. A gradual phasing-in of the private sector in Ethiopia, therefore, offers improved prospects for achieving the country’s middle income aspirations”
In today’s more than we think interconnected economy, acknowledgements of partners like the World Bank will definitely play a vital role in creating government and public confidence in pushing the growing economy forward.
Ethiopia as stipulated by the government is at a transition point from mainly agricultural led economy to a mixed economy and finally to industrial led economy. To sustain the double digit growth of the economy recorded over the years and effect the intended transition of the economy from agricultural led to industrial led, sustainable power supply is important.
Ethiopia endowed with substantial renewable energy resources, has put in place large scale power plant projects, therefore. Rough estimates place Ethiopia's total renewable energy generation at about 60,000 MW. At the forefront is hydropower, which has been recognized for decades as the most valuable resource with an estimated generation capacity of over 45,000 MW or 75% of renewable energy potentials. Despite the available potential, Ethiopia has been experiencing energy shortages and is struggling to meet growing electricity demand. Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO now split in to EU and EEP), a government-owned corporation responsible for power generation, transmission, distribution, and sales of electricity all over the nation, supplied electricity to consumers approximately 90% of which came from hydropower.
According to the growth and transformation plan/ GTP/, Ethiopia has planned and working hard to increase the generating capacity of the nation up to 10, 000MW at the end of the plan period (2014/15).
If the plan successfully completed, it is believed that it could not only meet domestic electricity demands, which currently outpaces supply, but also produce a significant surplus for export.
Among other grand projects, Great Ethiopian renaissance dam/GERD/,which will be one of the best and greatest achievements of the nation ever in a generation is under construction/reported 30% completion at this stage/ is making the headlines all over the world. It is geographically located in the west of the country in Benishangul-Gumuz regional state with coordinates of N11 12’ 51’’, E35 05’35’’, a distance of 400km away from the capital Addis Ababa, a dam of size 74*106 cubic meter of reservoir, equivalent to twice the size of lake Tana, with a total capacity of 6000MW/16*375Mw Francis turbines/, 15,692.00 GWH annual production of energy and a total construction cost of USD 4.8b.
Critics suggested that the plant’s load factor is estimated to be 33% which is smaller than other small hydro power plants’ load factors/ which is about 45-60%/.
From technical point of view, a load factor is the ratio of average load to the maximum demand during a given period .Higher load factor means, therefore, lesser maximum demand. The station capacity is so selected that it must meet the maximum demand. So, lower maximum demand again means lower capacity of the plant which, therefore, reduces the cost of the plant. A high load factor reduces the overall cost per unit generated. In short, the higher the load factor, the lower is the generation cost. It is because higher load factor means that for a given maximum demand, the number of units generated is more. This reduces the cost of generation. A high load factor also reduces the variable load problems on the power station. A higher load factor means comparatively less variations in the load demands at various times. This avoids the frequent use of regulating devices installed to meet the variable load on the station.
This hydro power plant is highly dependent on seasonal rain so, to raise the load factor, the size of the reservoir and other parameters must be increased which again has an effect on the cost and uproar of the downstream countries.
The successful completion of this dam has a triple standard outcome to Ethiopia.
Firstly, afraid of international influence, the cost of the plant is mainly designed meant to be covered with the local resources. If successful, it will boost the foundation for an internal confidence. If we can build a dam of the GERD size, there is no way we failed to build other comparatively smaller projects of similar nature.
Secondly, Blue Nile has always been a major reason for regional controversies. Ethiopia has been a victim of regional conflicts sponsored by those who have a direct interest on river Blue Nile, instead of sharing the blessings of it. Therefore, the successful completion of the dam will stop such greedy and historically unfair players and mark the end of the controversy for once and for all and sit around the table for win-win discussions in the times ahead.
Finally, the economy in general and the industry in particular, is highly dependent on energy. If the growing economy is energized with additional four fold of the existing energy supply/ GERD only/, it will be a guarantee ticket for sustainability. The manufacturing industry, which is low at this stage, leveraging the energy growth, will contribute more to the already vibrant economy.
So, the overall benefit of the dam outweighs the critics by far. As Ethiopians, we don’t feel bad had the money been spent even for such national prides only.
Balancing the pressure of the geopolitics on the one hand and pushing the progress of the controversial project forward on the other hand is really a practical test for Ethiopia. However with the commitment of the government and the people at hand, it seems almost a success for both. A lot is yet to be done in the coming years in general and during next year’s national election in particular, not to fall victim of consistently inconsistent opportunists, and be able to predict the unpredictable’s and close doors of any sort. For whatsoever reason, the sooner is the better.
In the mean time Ethiopians send a message to the world saying:
“We have been blamed for being poor for decades. So, at this very high time, we deserve international support in our unreserved effort to come out of that threshold line. No one has the right to decide we stay poor while others are enjoying luxuries with our own resources so unfairly. We have to take historical mistakes more seriously than ever. When the dynamics say it economy, power, intergovernmental relations, awareness of reality, changes; it shall not come at a cost of historical mistakes again.
And to their Egyptian friends:
You say “The water of the Nile is only ours and we only have the right to do with it for whatever reason we like to do with”:
We say “The water of Blue Nile/Abay/ is ours but it has been our culture to share with our neighbors. So, we proposed to you, Egyptians and of course Sudanese, to have a drink from our Abay with us”.
Again we say’’ Thank you Sudanese for accepting our proposals and hope Egyptians will join our club whenever they need to, but till then no worth noising”.
We also would like to remind you, specially the old generation, to understand
‘What is meant by an international treaty? Do you still believe that is a binding for an entity x which is not part of the treaty if entities y and z agreed to be ruled by. We are bored of hearing 1959 and 1929 agreements. You better stand up for a deal of mutual and long lasting benefit rather than brain washing the new generation’. How dare you believe in a treaty where someone else makes a deal in your behalf even if it is in your favor?
Ethiopia is not Egyptian water reservoir anymore!
Thanks for Reading!
Posted by Tigabu Atalo