Friday, September 7, 2018

Ethiopia’s Mega Dam project stalled due to corruption

Grand scandal from Ethiopia’s mega dam project reveals that nearly six billion birr is misappropriated. METEC is behind it.
Scandal _ Grand Renaissance Dam
 Sources borkena & Fana 
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Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam has caused internal and external controversy from the get go in 2011.
At home, Ethiopians saw the project initially not as unnecessary but as untimely from the point of view of polarized political environment and chronic good governance issues.
Many Ethiopian analysts even thought that the $US 4,5 billion mega project was introduced at the time to divert the attention of the Ethiopian mass from undertaking fundamental political change inspired by the “Arab Spring.”
Others saw the project as a conducive way to misappropriate resources to the benefit of the then influential and powerful elites who oversaw the project one way or another.
Externally, it was feared, at the time, that the project would bring Ethiopia in a collision course with Egypt and politicized Ethiopian analysts thought that the time was not right for confrontation. Activists and analysts believed that Ethiopia is divided due to the policies of the late prime minister Meles Zenawi and that would provide Egypt, in view of past efforts, an opportunity to inject billions of dollars to deepen the division to lead Ethiopia to chaos.
In fact, Egypt has been trying diplomatic and other means to sabotage the project as it believed that it would hard Egypt’s share of the water from the Blue Nile over which Ethiopia is building the dam. It took years of diplomatic efforts to convince Egypt that the project will be completed in a way that lower riparian countries (Sudan and Egypt) are not affected.Grand Scandals revealed
When GERD project was unveiled in 2011, project delivery time frame was given as five years. In terms of funds, it was estimated that the project would cost about 88 billion Ethiopian Birr (about $US 4.5 billion).
An investigative journalism documentary by Fana Broadcasting Corporate which was aired yesterday that seven years later the project is no where near completion but has already consumed over 70 billion Ethiopian Birr.
The documentary unveiled misappropriation of huge funds by Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), Ethiopian government owned enterprise. It was hired to do the electro-mechanical and hydro-steel work aspect of the project at a cost of 25.58 billion Ethiopian Birr, according to Abraham Belay Executive Director of Ethiopian Electric Power, who owns the project on behalf of the Ethiopian government.
Salini Construction, an Italian Company, was hired to undertake the civil engineering aspect of the project and has so far completed between 70-75 % of contracted out work, according to the report by Fana, for which it is paid about €1.48 billion. Pay out to Salini is said to be 5 % higher which was incurred due to late payment on the part of Ethiopian Electric Power authority.
On the other hand, METEC, has completed only about 25 to 30 percent of contracted out work (and it is verified by the consultancy company- Salini) while it is paid out 65.65 % of the project cost (16.79 billion Ethiopian Birr). And here is where the big scandal comes. METEC which was under the leadership of top TPLF military generals, like Kinfe Dagnaw who was made to retire, has even received full payments for some works that are not even started.
The project is stalled because of METEC as Salini Construction must wait for electro-mechanical and hydro-steel work to be completed to carry out work on its turf.
The project delivery is already delayed by two years and it remains unclear as to how long it will take to compete the remaining work which is over 70 percent as far as METEC is concerned and about 30 % in the case of Salini Construction.
METEC is paid out about 5.8 billion birrs in what appears to be rather a fraudulent payment. And no authority is held responsible for it so far.
The project manager was found dead in his car at Meskel Square on July 28,2018. Findings of the investigation is not yet revealed to the public but there is a belief that he was assassinated. Some think that his death is orchestrated by Former TPLF authorities who oversaw METEC. Others think that he is possibly assassinated by a mercenary hired by Egypt.
Reactions to the scandal
Ethiopians, from within the country and abroad, have been contributing to the dam project in the form of purchasing bonds not just as an investment but also as duty for national cause.
Workers have been paying a portion of their income, just like pay as you go pension plan, towards the Grand Renaissance Dam.
Suspicion was high regarding the public project as it was delayed despite the government before Abiy Ahmed administration propagated that the project is near completion.
News of grand scandal, and Fana has cited important financial and other documents related to it, has shocked the public. Anger is high.
Some activists are already mobilizing Ethiopians to take to the street to demand that those who are responsible for misappropriation or even an outright theft of funds is held accountable.
The government of Abiy Ahmed has already ordered the break up of METET into two; one of which is to remain under the military and the rest is to be transferred to a civilian administration.
But that is not what Ethiopians want, apparently. Ethiopians rather want full wrath of the law be applied to those who stole public funds from the project in different forms.

Friday, July 27, 2018

As a Dam Rises in Ethiopia, Its Manager Is Found Dead- NYT

CAIRO — The manager of a $4 billion dam under construction on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia was found shot dead on Thursday, drawing an anguished reaction from Ethiopia’s leaders and setting on edge one of Africa’s most contentious development projects.
The project manager, Semegnew Bekele, who was overseeing the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, was found slumped behind the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser in Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, at 8:30 a.m. He had a gunshot wound to his head, the federal police commissioner, Zeinu Jamal, told reporters.
The police also found a pistol inside the car and were trying to identify its owner, Mr. Jamal said. The police commissioner did not say whether he suspected foul play, fueling speculation that the death was linked to Mr. Semegnew’s work.
When completed, the giant Renaissance dam is expected to generate 6,400 megawatts of hydroelectricity that will more than double Ethiopia’s current production and potentially allow the country to earn hundreds of millions of dollars in energy export revenues. But the project has met with stiff resistance from Egypt, where many fear it will cut into the country’s already strained supply of Nile water.
Mr. Semegnew, 57, a short, loquacious man with a salt-and-pepper beard, was the project’s engineer and unofficial ambassador. He explained the dam’s benefits to the Ethiopian taxpayers who funded it, and sought to assure nervous Egyptians that it would cause them no harm.
“This is our baby,” he told The New York Times in May during a tour of the dam in the Ethiopian highlands, five miles from the border with Sudan. “This is what we are saying. Not just me — all Ethiopians.”

His sudden death sent ripples of sorrow across Ethiopia on Thursday. Grief-stricken citizens scuffled with the police as they attempted to lay flowers near the bloodstained vehicle where Mr. Semegnew was found. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was “saddened & utterly shocked,” his chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said in a Twitter post.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The end is Nile: International cooperation on Egypt's water crisis EU

Ethiopia is building Africa's largest dam, crucial to its energy security and economic growth. It is also causing issues with neighbours on the Nile, particularly Egypt, which could suffer from absolute water scarcity once the project is complete. 
Egypt’s concern about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has gained a new intensity. Since its launch in 2011, the project has elicited a mixture of denial and opposition from Cairo – despite the conclusion of a water management agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in 2015. Earlier this year, Egypt reportedly considered a response to GERD that involved either a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia (which would exclude Sudan) or even military action.
However, judging by its recent bilateral and regional diplomatic efforts, the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has accepted that the dam will be built and is instead working hard to mitigate the problems the project could create for Egypt. Sustaining this drive will require determined effort, both domestically and in the wider region.
A $4 billion feat of engineering with a planned production capacity of 6,000 megawatts, GERD is crucial to Ethiopia’s energy security and economic growth. Ethiopia hopes that the hydroelectric dam – Africa’s largest – will extend the power grid nationwide by 2025, serving the roughly 86 million Ethiopians who currently lack access to electricity.
When Addis Ababa first embarked on the project, Cairo objected that it would violate regional treaties Egypt and Sudan signed in 1929 and amended in 1959. Cairo believed that these agreements, which allocate most of the Nile’s water to the signatories, would act as a bulwark against unilateral measures that reduced its access to the river. Yet, under intense domestic pressure to enhance its economy and aware that political upheaval threatened Egyptian stability, Ethiopia embarked on the project nonetheless, funding most of the work itself.
GERD will divert much of the water that has historically flowed into the Nile Delta along other routes. With the project 60 percent complete, Ethiopia can begin collecting water and filling up portions of the dam in a process that could take up to 15 years. As a consequence, Egypt’s supply of fresh water from the Nile will drop by an estimated 25 percent over the next seven years.
For Cairo, this is an existential threat. Because the river provides around 85 percent of Egypt’s fresh water, such a drop could cause the country to suffer from absolute water scarcity in the near future – unless it reforms its water usage policies. As it stands, a rapidly expanding population, wasteful irrigation practices, high levels of water pollution, and a lack of effective water recycling or desalination facilities have precipitated a sharp rise in Egypt’s water deficit.
Egypt should endeavour to defuse any conflict arising in negotiations over these challenges, because it has the most to lose
To address the problems associated with GERD and avert a crisis, Egypt has begun to pursue domestic and regional strategies on the ground. With the help of the European External Action Service, the country has completed a National Water Resources Plan that focuses on water management over the next two decades. The plan covers efforts to raise awareness on water usage practices, promote water conservation, reform the public water sector, invest in desalination plants, and upgrade the country’s irrigation infrastructure.
As all these measures are of vital importance to Egyptian water security, the government must implement them in a sustainable manner. Governmental bodies have announcedthat they will pursue large-scale legacy projects such as numerous desalination plants. However, it is equally, if not more, important to tackle endemic issues that have undermined Egypt’s water security, including the inefficiency of its inefficient irrigation infrastructure.
Yet significant improvements in this area will not by themselves offset GERD’s impact, let alone the broader water supply problems Egypt confronts. Cairo also needs to engage in regional diplomacy.
There are signs that Egypt has (wisely) decided to focus its diplomatic negotiating strategy on the period in which Ethiopia is filling the dam’s reservoir. It is in Cairo’s interest that Addis Ababa take as long as possible to complete this process, buying time to pursue domestic reforms and bring new desalination and water treatment plants online.
In this, Egypt will have to contend with pressure to reap the benefits of the dam from within Ethiopia. Sudan’s role is another factor that complicates the strategy. Although the country is also a beneficiary of the Nile’s downstream flow (as per the 1959 treaty), it has supported Ethiopia’s construction of GERD – much to Egypt’s consternation. A recent rise in tension between Egypt and Sudan over other issues, including a territorial dispute in the Hala’ib Triangle, may hamper Cairo’s efforts to gain support from Khartoum.
Nonetheless, it is imperative that Egypt maintains its current diplomatic momentum by pushing for a multilateral water management arrangement with Sudan and Ethiopia. Agreements between the three countries signed in May 2018, which build on the tripartite 2015 deal, provide the basis for broader cooperation, particularly in their call for regional infrastructure investment funds. As the countries face many of the same challenges, a joint regional approach to combating water scarcity and the instability it creates could be mutually beneficial.
Egypt should endeavour to defuse any conflict arising in negotiations over these challenges, because it has the most to lose. Moreover, it should envision ways to move beyond an immediate response to GERD and establish a framework for long term cooperation. It is here that the involvement of the EU can be most valuable, providing direct mediation, indirect technical support, and neutral oversight of countries’ fulfilment of agreements. Egypt’s current diplomatic drive also provides an opportunity to rework outdated treaties and construct a more robust regional framework that can meet future water security challenges. Given the threat it now faces, the country must take the lead in such efforts.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Egypt's Options to Counter Ethiopia's Grand Dam Run Dry- stratfor.com

Highlights
§  The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a critical component of Addis Ababa's economic development strategy, will provide ample electricity for the country's 100 million citizens.
§  Despite Egypt's long hostility to the project, Ethiopia will soon complete the dam, underscoring the shifting balance of power from Cairo to the upstream states of Sudan and Ethiopia.
§  Cairo's weak hand and inability to gain sufficient leverage over Addis Ababa will force it to coordinate dam operations if it wishes to have input on future Nile River projects.

 The diplomatic merry-go-round shows little sign that it is about to slow down. In mid-May, officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan sat down in Addis Ababa to discuss the estimated $6.4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project and to find a solution to the Egypt-Ethiopia impasse over the hydroelectric project on the Nile River. Although the negotiators, including foreign ministers, intelligence chiefs and water ministers, failed to break the deadlock, they did sign a new road map to establish a scientific study group to monitor one of Egypt's biggest concerns — the rate at which water fills the reservoir. The talks seem likely to beget more talks, because Cairo will have little choice but to adopt a more conciliatory tone in the months ahead if it wishes to minimize the effect of the new dam — as well as that of any future projects — on downstream activities.
A map shows the location of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Nile region.
A Battle for Water
Attempts at diplomacy notwithstanding, the fundamental differences between Cairo and Addis Ababa (as well as Khartoum) will remain as the project nears completion. (Ethiopian authorities have said they are aiming to finish the project by the end of the current Ethiopian year, which ends in October, but that time frame appears to be overly ambitious.) Egypt harbors understandable fear about the potentially negative effects of the dam, because the downstream giant derives 95 percent of its water supply from the river. Consequently, officials in Cairo are particularly worried about the rate at which Addis Ababa fills the dam's reservoir, because doing so rapidly would further strain Egypt's water supply. A French firm conducting impact study reports has suggested that Ethiopia could prevent undue disruptions in the water flow to downstream countries if it fills the reservoir more slowly, although Cairo and Addis Ababa have been tussling over the report's findings. Ultimately, Addis Ababa wishes to fill the reservoir in about three years or so — a much quicker time frame than the decadelong duration preferred by Cairo.
For Addis Ababa, the dam addresses the country's electricity shortages and furthers its development strategy. Upon completion, the project will make the landlocked country of 100 million more attractive to outside investment. The benefits will also be tangible for Sudan, which will have the option of using the dam's surplus electricity. In fact, the prospect of more electrical power effectively convinced Khartoum to switch sides from Cairo to Addis Ababa — inevitably infuriating Egypt.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reach agreement on Nile dispute

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have reached an agreement in their ongoing dispute over the construction of the Renaissance Dam on the River Nile.
Progress was made in talks held yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a $4 billion infrastructure project being undertaken by Ethiopia. The foreign ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan’s water resources minister have said they will set up a scientific study group to consult on the construction of the dam, and leaders from the three nations will meet every six months for consultations on progress. More high-level talks are set to take place on 3 July in Cairo.
According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the scientific study group will discuss “various scenarios related to the filling and operation rules in accordance with the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of shared water resources while taking all appropriate measures to prevent the causing of significant harm.”
The three countries have also signed a Declaration of Principles that aims to bring about “understanding and rapprochement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.” The ten-principle declaration was first proposed in 2015 as the foundation upon which further agreements should be based.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, told reporters that “we have charted a roadmap that, if successful, will be able to break difficulties that we have been facing,” according to the Washington Post. Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Meles Alem, saw the progress as “one step forward to Ethiopia”.
Until now, extensive negotiations between the three countries had failed to reach an agreement. The previous round of talks, which took place in April in Sudan, ended without resolution. Ethiopia blamed Egypt for the failure of these talks, citing a “lack of goodwill on Egypt’s part to move the consultations forward.” Alem explained that “Egypt wanted Ethiopia to recognise a 1959 water-sharing treaty between Sudan and Egypt,” which Ethiopia sees as “a red line” because the agreement was signed in its absence. Although there have been a number of treaties over the years between the countries sharing water from the Nile, most of these agreements excluded Ethiopia.
The April talks were the first technical meetings held after Egypt suspended negotiations last November, in protest at Sudanese and Ethiopian modifications of the studies made by French experts about the dam. The dispute has been ongoing since Ethiopia began construction on the dam back in 2011. The dam is situated on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, about 15 kilometres east of the border with Sudan.
The dam is now 60 per cent complete and will become Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam. Ethiopia hopes the dam will boost development in the country and provide power to 60 million of its citizens who currently don’t have access to electricity. Egypt, however, is concerned that too much of the Nile’s waters could be retained each year by the dam, affecting its agriculture and suffocating the country’s main water source. With around 93 per cent of Egypt’s 94 million citizens living along the banks of Nile, Egypt has taken a tough stance against Ethiopia’s plans. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has previously said that “the Nile is a matter of life and death” for Egypt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Egypt helped build several African dams: Irrigation Min. - Egypt Today


CAIRO – 22 April 2018: The Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations require patience, said Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohammed Abdel-Ati during a meeting held Saturday at the Wafd Party headquarters. 

Abdel-Ati stated that Egypt has contributed to building several dams in multiple African nations, such as Owen Falls Dam in Uganda which Egypt semi-funded in 1950, Tekeze Dam in Ethiopia, and the Merowe, Jebel Aulia and Roseires dams in Sudan. 

Abdel-Ati revealed that Egypt and Ethiopia had agreed on building the Renaissance Dam in 2008. However, the African Horn state announced in 2011 the building of another dam on the Blue Nile without informing Egypt. 

Abdel-Ati said that Egypt has shown a positive attitude regarding the Renaissance Dam during the previous years, adding that Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed on choosing a consultancy firm to provide the technical studies of the dam. 

Abdel-Ati urged officials in Sudan and Ethiopia to understand Egypt’s worries regarding the state’s share of Nile water. 

Egypt had invited the ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation, as well as the heads of the intelligence agencies, of Ethiopia and Sudan for another round of talks about the dam, which were scheduled to be held in Cairo on April 20; however, no response was received.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ethiopia and Sudan didn't respond to Egypt's call to meet over GERD - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

Ethiopia and Sudan didn't respond to Egypt's call to meet over GERD - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan: "Ethiopia and Sudan didn’t respond to Egypt’s call to meet over GERD
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April 19, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Ethiopia and Sudan didn’t reply to an Egyptian proposition to meet in Cairo this month to resume talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) after the failure of Khartoum meeting.

On 12 April Egypt denied obstructing joint efforts to settle the dispute over the impact of the GERD on Egypt share of water and proposed to meet in Cairo this month to complete the talks about what they engaged in Khartoum.

Speaking to Extranews TV, a local channel, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry regretted that Addis Ababa and Khartoum didn’t respond yet to his invitation.

"Despite all that we have done, we do not see an interest similar to what we have shown, and therefore, we will wait until there is a desire from our partners to raise this issue," further Shoukry.

Ethiopia and Sudan said Khartoum meeting had been undermined by Egypt because it refused to include a disposition providing that Ethiopia is not concerned by 1959 deal which is a bilateral agreement between Cairo and Khartoum, despite a previous understanding over this point.

After the failure to sign a deal in Khartoum, the three countries agreed that the irrigation ministers should meet alone to fix all the technical issues before to be joined by the foreign ministers and intelligence chiefs.

The meeting of irrigation ministers alone, de facto, means the cancellation of a decision reached by the leaders of the three pays on 29 January providing that the meetings over the GERD issue should include the foreign minister and the head of intelligence services.

Shoukry warned against further delay in the talks while Ethiopia continues the construction of the dam saying that his government will continue to defend the interests of the Egyptian people in the waters of the Nile "through many means".

"Everyone should know that Egypt will not accept imposing a status quo through which the will of a party is imposed over another," he further added.

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