Traditionally, Ethiopia is referred the water tower of east Africa as it is endowed with bountiful surface and underground water. The abundant rainfall, in Kiremt that seasonally hits the south western, central and northern high lands make the country’s water source superfluous.
There are numerous rivers and streams in nine river basins. All rivers flow radial, from the centre to the neighbouring countries. In this sense, according to geographers, Ethiopia has a gravitational force to hold together the horn of African countries. The arid lands of neighbouring countries have turned in to oasis thanks to the inflow of water from Ethiopia.
Though endowed with abundant natural resources, due to underdevelopment, the absence of technology which bolsters the nation’s water retaining capacity and finance, Ethiopia was deficient in utilizing its water source effectively. Contrary to this, the water which flows from top to down is known as a cause for erosion and depletion of land and natural resources.
According to some studies, till now, it is only five per cent of its water resources the nation has harnessed for irrigation. And it has met only 18 per cent of its energy demand from hydro power. Ensuring sanitation and hygiene standards has not yet been developed as required. Some 15 years ago when the government payed attention to development, one of the focused areas was exploring and exploiting renewable energy sources and among others, hydro, geothermal, wind, solar and bio-energy.
Energy is both a means and an end for development. Investing in energy can bring a lucrative business through supplying it to the market. On the other hand, it propels industrialization through the utilization of energy as an input. In a given country, the dearth of energy is a sign of underdevelopment. Contrary to this, exploiting energy sources is a driving force for socioeconomic progress and better ways of life. Cognizant of this fact, currently, the construction of many hydro power dams is underway.
The government has invested its time, money and man power and much have been achieved. The Tana Belese, Tekeze, Gilgel Ghibe I, II and III and other medium and small size hydro power dams can be mentioned here. Drawing lessons with regard to the civil and mechanical engineering branches of those completed dams, now the government and the people of Ethiopia are dedicating their time and resource for the construction of Hidasie Dam, which is the largest in Africa and expected to generate 6 thousand Mega Watt. Upon completion, the dams can bring numerous value domestically and regionally.
As it is known, a renewable energy source is a tool in achieving Climate Resilient Green Economy and attaining green economy. Utilizing carbon intensive energy resource is impossible. Hence, exploiting renewable energy must be a norm rather than an exception. The construction also could galvanize all citizens regardless of their gender age and other identities.
The financial contribution by way of purchasing bond and giving grants as well as and supportive materials in the form of gifts is impressive. It has raised the culture of saving unprecedentedly. The construction cost is fully covered from domestic financial resources. In terms of skill development in the construction engineering, the project plays a vital role. Ethiopian professionals from the top level up to casual workers are developing experience working on mega projects.
Also the dam creates 245-kms long,45-kms width and 110meter depth artificial lake which could facilitate boat navigation so that, people and goods could easily be transport from place to place with fair price. The establishment of aquaculture because of the dam contributes for fishery industry which supports the effort of ensuring food security and nutrition.
It as well enables the creation of recreational place that serves as a touristic spot. The construction of modern road towards the dam paves way for the sprouting of urban centres, which could entail hotels and parks that stimulate the economy through job creation. The construction of the Dam could also benefit the lower riparian countries in many aspects. The Dam is located on an elevated spot of 500 meter above sea level and this helps to reduce evaporation rate as compared to the Dams constructed in the lower course of the river. It regulates the flow of water towards the lower riparian countries.
Currently, due to the absence of such kind of dams in the upper riparian countries, countries in the lower course receive unregulated water. That is to say, during the rainy season they become vulnerable to flood while in the dry season they suffer from shortage of water. Dams in the down stream countries will also be spared silt accumulation because the Hidasie Dam serves to contain the soil. Upon completion when it begins generating hydro electric power in addition to easing energy shortage, it can be a means of foreign currency earning which shore up scarcity in this regard. The supply of hydro power to the regional market facilitates regional economic integration, which is a base for political stability and ensuring the past mistrust in to mutual cooperation.
In this regard, the tripartite agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan can be mentioned as a blueprint for future cooperation. The expansion of the utilization of renewable energy in the region also propels countries to move forward in fulfilling their pledge to see to the creation of climate resilient economy. However, side by side with the construction of the dam, the ongoing conservation work through water shade management and afforestation should continue. This is not for the sake of prolonging the span of the dam but also to ensure sustainable development.
In sum, as mentioned earlier in addition to accelerating poverty reduction, the construction of the dam reinvigorates the nation historical pride hence, the all-out support should continue till the actualization of the dam.
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