As countries relax travel restrictions across borders, there is a strong chance that travelling is going to be the first choice you make to favour yourself to let go of every burden you carried over the past four to five months.
If Ethiopia is among your travel choices then, it is more likely that you come across the ongoing discourse among Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and the other countries in East Africa mainly with regards to the Grand Ethiopian Renaisance Dam, GERD. As a less informed counterpart, you may be wondering how it may affect your trips to Ethiopia.
So, to help you educate yourself and make an infomed decison in your travel plan to Ethiopia, here we shade light on five key highlights you need to be aware regarding Grand Ethiopian Renaisance Dam, GERD, project.
1. What is Great Ethiopian Renaisance Dam, GERD?
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), initially named Millennium Dam, ታላቁ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዳሴ ግድብ aka ሕዳሴ ግድብ ( in Amharic) , is a US$5 billion worth 6,450 MW capacity power project Ethiopia is building on Abay River, main tributary of the Nile River, the longest river in the world. Currently, the GERD is the largest hydroelectric dam project under construction in Africa.
2. Would There Be a Travel Safety Concern to Ethiopia Due to the GERD?
With regards to travel safety, the Dam is being built on the western tip of the country, 15 KM from the Sudanes border and 472 Km from Addis Ababa, the capital. Apart from the emotional and project based economic aspect that may arise, the travel safety concern is minimum for Ethiopia if there comes an eminent threat to the DAM. Given the location of the Dam, the only impact would be the risk for the Dam itself.
Against the current public opinion and quite in contrast, if Ethiopia takes retaliatary action on similar Dams in neibouring countries, it is likely that their overall livelihood and security is going to be compromised.
3. What is the Purpose of the GERD?
Ethiopia is building the Dam for a sole purpose of generating electric power. Ethiopian economy has been growing for over a decade. As the economy continues to grow, the energy demand is steadily growing as well. Moreover, 60 million Ethiopians, more than 60 % of the population, are still living without access to electricty. The government of Ethiopian hopes to close the energy gap coming from GERD.
For Africa, GERD is in fact an incentive to continue the Grand Inga Dam project of the African Union, the world's largest suggested hydropower scheme on the Congo River.
4. Why is So Much Media Hype About GERD?
Abay has always been a sense of regret for Ethiopians for not leveraging the water resource for the country's development aspiration. Many previous leaders tried it with no success until Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia , who championed the GERD Project, sought after a new sprit of collaboration with all the Nile Basin countries for a fair share of the Nile water resource as he lighted the tourch for the start of the construction of the GERD.
Grand Renaissance Dam, Hidase Gidb as Ethiopians call it, is much more than a Dam for them. In fact, it is much more than the politics and the government running the country right now. As Ethiopians, they have no much concern for the water coming out of the Dam. What matters most is justice and fairness to the use of their own resource, second to the badly needed electricity.
In the same token, Egypt depends on the Nile water for most of its water use(readily available and less costly) where Ethiopians fully recognize and promise no harm to their Egyptian and Sudanese neighbours. In fact, this is the very reason, Ethiopia is building the Dam close to the Sudanese border where there is no arable land after the water is released from the turbines. Ethiopia gets power and Egypt and Sudan gets their water. Simple logic Egypt ignored to accept.
Egypt has long considered the Nile water as its national security issue signing water sharing agreements with Sudan excluding Ethiopia and other riparian countries despite the fact that 86% of the water flows from Ethiopia and the rest goes from the Equatorial region.
One step forward and two steps back wards, Egypt continues the debacle with a hope of preserving the historical rights it claims where Ethiopia is not part of while the Dam is nearing completion.
In less than 15 days from now, in the face of a negotiation deadlock, Ethiopia sticks to its plan to fill the Dam and Egypt is trying every card it has to stop it politicizing it at all levels whenever and wherever possible.
Far and in between, there is the "media hype" which has long forgone ethical reporting on the technical dimension. As a traveller to Ethiopia, there is no wonder and it should not bother you at all if you hear or watch the GERD news all the time.
5. What Additional Potential does GERD Can Provide?
Although nature has always been particularly on the side of the western part of Ethiopia, for some unknown reasons, the tourism destinations are concentrated mostly in the northern, Central, Southern, and Eastern part of the country.
As controversial GERD sounds, it could boost the tourism potential, inspiriring people across the whole east Africa region for leisure, adventure, learning and collaborative travel.
On the road trip is the most exotic leisure travel to the western part of Ethiopia than through flights. Yet, not all of us have the luxury of time. With the chain of airports under renewal, and a potential construction of one on the GERD site, travel to GERD and the western regon as whole will be much easier.
For Ethiopians, the GERD whose construction reaches more than 70 percent is already a done deal ( you probabaly see the hashtag trendings Build the dam, Fill the dam, own the river, Collaborate with the region, Ensure fair and equitable use of the Nile water and so on and it is time to move on and talk business about it. Energy and potentially Tourism. Ethiopians knew their fore fathers built the Obelisks of Axum, Castles of Gonder, Churches of Lalibela, Jegol of Harar and the many other historical phenomena with perseverance, commitment, togetherness and sacrifies and todays generation considers GERD a continuation of that legacy.
Source: Afro Travel Blogs
This article was first published on Afro experience and it is republished here upon permission