Saturday, April 27, 2013

What’s being done about Ethiopian dam’s harmful effects on Kenya? - Opinion -

Where do things stand with respect to Ethiopia’s partially built Gibe III dam on the Omo River?
What is to be done concerning its anticipated profoundly harmful impacts not only upon the lives and fortunes of thousands of Ethiopians who face involuntary displacement and resettlement, but upon Kenyan communities dependent for their livelihoods upon Lake Turkana whose ecology the dam profoundly threatens?
How will these profound adverse ecological, socio-economic and cultural impacts be ameliorated? How can the interests of both Kenya and Ethiopia be brokered so as to maximise the gains and ameliorate the adverse impacts? To what extent might third-party mediation be required by the two countries for these purposes, and to what extent have those good offices already been engaged through IGAD, the Africa Union or some other appropriate venue?
The complexities of the dam’s impact are too extensive and far-reaching to be comprehensively summarised in a single opinion piece. Some of the essentials, however, are as follows. Lake Turkana is fed to fluctuating levels almost entirely by rainy season runoff from Ethiopia’s southern highlands that flows into the Omo River.
Desert winds evaporate part of its volume, which is replenished by water from the Omo. Ethiopia initiated the dam project during the last decade with the encouragement of international development agencies, apparently notwithstanding its project’s adverse impact upon thousands of the continent’s poorest peoples, the same agencies that have also stood behind poverty reduction efforts such as those of the Millenium Development Goals.
The same implicit tradeoff for international development agencies between large-scale macro-economic development projects and advancing economically by promoting the interests of millions of small producers has described a transformation in Ethiopian policy over the two decades of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front regime.
Having come to power committed to peasant farmer-based democratic political economy, Ethiopia has become one of the African countries with the most extensive large-scale allocations of land to external developers leaving uncertain the status, circumstances, and prospects of many communities of small producers with strong ancestral ties to portions of those lands, communities in which land tenure insecurity may have been markedly insecure already.
The situation of Kenyan communities dependent upon a viable Lake Turkana region ecology is very different and more complex than for those of the Ethiopians reliant upon the Omo. First, Kenya has a new land policy that commits the country to equity and justice in land tenure relations as well as economic efficiency.
In particular it recognises the validity of community land, though the specifics of what this means have yet to be established. Second, as a report by the California-based International Rivers firm observes, Kenya has been on a democratising path through the 2010 Constitution and its on-going implementation.
By contrast, a thoroughly authoritarian Ethiopia remains committed to cultivating legitimacy effectively on the basis of the outcomes of its macro-economic transformation, of which the dam is a significant dimension. How well and productively Ethiopia is in the process of resettling those displaced by the dam, improving on the abysmal record in this regard, is a matter of debate.
It is pertinent that Ethiopia’s calculations concerning the economic impact of the dam include the salethroughout the region of electricity generated by the dam, including to Kenya, because its own domestic market will be too small to recoup the production costs.
The impacts of the dam on the peoples of the Lake Turkana region are expected to be profound and serious.
Prof Harbeson teaches political science at City University of New YorkGitau Warigi’s column returns next week.

Ethiopia and China sign $1 billion power deal

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia signed a contract Friday worth nearly $1 billion with a Chinese energy company to build two transmission lines linking the country's largest dam to the country's central power grid.
The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo.) signed the deal with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company (CET) in the Ethiopian capital.
The three-year project, which will be fully funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, will start immediately.
EEPCo.'s CEO said the deal was a major step for Ethiopia's energy sector.
"This is another milestone in (realising) Ethiopia's development objective," Miheret Debebe told reporters.
The two transmission lines, with a combined capacity of nearly 1000 kilovolts, will run over 700 kilometres to link the Grand Renaissance Dam to the main power grid near the country's capital Addis Ababa.
Miheret urged CET to adhere to the timeline set out in the contract for the project's completion, and admitted that securing funding for the large-scale project was a "challenge."
As part of its ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), Ethiopia is developing its energy production sector with the aim of exporting power to neighbouring countries.
With a capacity of 6,000 MW, the Renaissance Dam on the Nile River is the largest of Ethiopia's dams, most of which are still under construction.
Hydropower is set to be the largest energy provider, but wind, geothermal and solar projects are also underway.
The country has the capacity to produce 45,000 MW of power, more than the total amount currently consumed in all of sub-Saharan Africa, according to official figures.
The GTP seeks to boost economic growth in order to transform Ethiopia into a carbon-neutral, middle income country by 2025.
China is a major player in the Horn of Africa nation, heavily invested in manufacturing, energy, and transport industries.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kenya Will Be Harmed By Ethiopia's Gibe III Dam | The Star

Three months ago in this column, I warned that the completion of Ethiopia’s Gibe III dam on the Omo River could transform Lake Turkana, the world’s only desert lake, into Africa’s Aral Sea. Impassioned by China-style great leap forward philosophy, the Ethiopian government has pursued the development of the Gibe III dam in total disregard to the consequence associated with it.
The Ethiopian government and multilateral donor institutions present the Gibe III dam project as critical to national and regional energy security and contributing to poverty alleviation. A new report from the African Resource Working Group (ARWG) reveals that the completion of the Gibe III dam on the Omo River will touch off socio-economic, political and ecological collapse in the tri-state border region of the Great Horn of Africa.
According to the ARWG report, a major review by the African Development Bank of the hydrological impacts of the Gibe III dam on Lake Turkana omitted any assessment of the dependence of the livelihoods of local communities on the lake’s resources. Moreover, the assessment by the Ethiopian government shows no regard for Kenya’s sovereignty over Lake Turkana’s northern shoreline zone and a significant portion of the Omo Delta.
The author of the report, Claudia J. Carr, associate professor at University of California at Berkeley, argues that no credible assessments of the environmental and social cross-border impacts of the dam have been conducted. The report charges that the assessments of the dam’s impact were fragmentary and riddled with major omissions, inaccuracies and even fabrications.
For instance, the Ethiopian government and the dam proponents suggest that a 60-70% drop in inflows would only cause a 2m-drop in lake levels. The report suggests that the Ethiopian government, international development banks and global commercial investors have operated with the precondition despite glaringly inadequate appraisal of the impacts of Gibe III mega-dam project.
The Gibe III reservoir would be 150 km long, in a narrow gorge with covering an area of 211 square kilometers, with a storage volume of 11,750 million cubic meters; an amount equal to about two years of the Omo River’s flow causing a 60-70% reduction in the volume of the Omo River, which contributes 90% of inflow into Lake Turkana. This will reduce Lake Turkana’s volume by 58%, lower the lake level by10-22m while doubling its salinity and putting nearly 500,000 pastoralists and fisher folk at the risk of famine and conflict.
Gibe III dam will disrupt regular flood cycles of the Omo River destroying the network of swamps vital for 50 species of fish. Moreover, the networks of swamps also provide forage and browse for wildlife and livestock, support flood-retreat agriculture, and are valuable habitat for water birds that use the lake for their annual migrations between Eurasia and Eastern Africa. Lake Turkana is home Nile crocodile, bird species numbering in the hundreds, including charismatic birds like flamingos, cormorants, ibises, skimmers, and sandpipers, and amphibians like hippos and turtles.
The Gibe III dam will have irreversible consequences on vital ecosystem services and biodiversity. In turn this will impact hundreds of thousands of people in the Lower Omo Basin and Lake Turkana Basin whose livelihoods depend on a complex socio-ecological web of exchange of services and products. Completion of the dam will destroy the core of the region’s resilient indigenous economies, which are complex and delicately balanced livelihoods woven together by networks of reciprocity across Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.
The report further warns that owing to its proximity to the Main Ethiopian Rift, there is a 50% likelihood of 7 or 8 intensity earthquakes occurring within 50 years, causing collapse of the dam, triggering unprecedented destruction of livelihoods and the ecological balance in the Lower Omo Basin and throughout Kenya’s Lake Turkana.
In July 2102, the World Bank voted to approve $684 million to build a 1000-kilometer long transmission major line to link Kenya to the controversial Gibe III dam. Clearly this demonstrates that both the World Bank and the Kenyan government failed to grasp the enormous and potentially catastrophic downstream socio-economic, ecological and political consequences of the Gibe III dam.
On the basis of the evidence advanced by the Africa Resource Working Group as well as other studies, Kenya’s complicity and tacit endorsement of the Gibe III dam is reckless, wrongheaded and unconstitutional. It is the duty of the government of Kenya to protect the rights and livelihoods of communities for whom the Turkana basin is home.

Dr. Awiti is an ecosystem ecologist based at Aga Khan University, Nairobi

Nile Dam of Ethiopia Discussion Prof. Muse Tegegne on the Ethio-Kinjet ...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ethiopia picks green energy for sustainable growth plan

Ethiopia picks green energy for sustainable growth plan

Ethiopia Parliamentary Speaker Abadulla GEMEDA

Foreign firms are interested in the biofuel sector in Ethiopia, the country’s parliament speaker says. Ethiopia aims to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a green economy

A scene from Ethiopia’s border to Sudan is seen in this file photo. Improving crop and livestock production practices is among Ethiopia’s 2025 goals.
A scene from Ethiopia’s border to Sudan is seen in this file photo. Improving crop and livestock production practices is among Ethiopia’s 2025 goals.
In general energy affects all aspects of development – social, economic and environmental – including livelihoods, access to water, agricultural productivity, health, education and gender-related issues. 

None of the Millennium Development Goals can be met without major improvement in the quality and quantity of energy services in the country.

Ethiopia aims to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a green economy. The green economy plan is based on four pillars: 
  • Improving crop and livestock production practices for higher food security and farmer income while reducing emissions
  • Protecting and re-establishing forests for their economic and ecosystem services, including as carbon stocks
  • Expanding electricity generation from renewable sources of energy for domestic and regional markets
  • Leapfrogging to modern and energy-efficient technologies in transport, industrial sectors and buildings.
The national energy policy and the environmental policy of Ethiopia presuppose the wide use of renewable energy resources such as hydro and other renewable energy sources.

Today foreign companies are very interested to invest in the biofuel sector in Ethiopia. Currently local and foreign companies have applied to invest and some of them have already started operation in growing Jathropha and castor for biodiesel. At the same time the government has launched an expansion plan on sugar industries, which will create an opportunity to produce ethanol in large quantity. The biofuel development program will help to secure our fuel supplies as well as reduce its petroleum import bill through the development of an indigenous fuel production strategy such as ethanol and biodiesel.


In yet another grand scheme – the Five-Year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) – the Ethiopian government envisages doubling agricultural production and the gross domestic product (GDP) and sustaining the rate to 14.9 percent, in the best case scenario. Indeed, the government and peoples of Ethiopia are poised to intensify economic activities in areas of agro-processing, both intensive and commercial farming, road and railway construction, ICT services expansion, trade and investment as well as energy infrastructure development. 

Between now and 2015, the GTP will lay the foundation for the industrial sector to take the lead in the economy. Expansion of micro and small enterprises alongside export-led industries will be central in this regard. The strategy embraces massive infrastructure development, or social over-head capital schemes, including railway, highways, telecommunications and hydropower and wind power, to mention a few, to propel the economy in the desired direction. 

The Ethiopian development roadmap, the GTP, is focused on telecom expansion, irrigation schemes, power generation, and construction of transport infrastructures and social amenities. Over the next five years, the number of mobile subscribers will reach over 61 million, dwarfing the current 4 million subscribers. Primary health care will be accessible across the whole of Ethiopia. In addition to extending the total road coverage to 64,500 kilometers, a railway network stretching for about 2,400 kilometers across the country is part of the grand scheme to completely overhaul a sector key to economic transformation. 

Ethiopia is accelerating the construction of the Renaissance Dam, which will generate 6,000 MW of power and will go a long way to addressing the surge in energy demand following the transformation of the economy. Demand for energy by some estimates grows at an annual rate of 20 percent.

Finally, the most promising renewable energy sources, including wind power, solar energy, biomass, biofuel, geothermal and hydropower, are envisaged in the country’s Green Development Strategy. The major objectives of the Ethiopian energy sub-sector are, firstly, to meet the demand for power in Ethiopia by providing adequate and reliable energy supply that satisfies the required standard. The other objective is to export energy to neighboring countries for strengthening and creating economic integration with them based on mutual advantages.