Ethiopia raises US$350 million for mega dam
More than US$ 350 million has been mobilised from various sources in Ethiopia to support the construction of Africa’s biggest dam.
The Great Renaissance Dam to be built over the Nile River will cost US$5 billion.
The US$350 million was raised over the last six months from civil servants, private sector employees, students and private business people as well as Ethiopians in the Diaspora.
Those who want to support the project have been encouraged to buy government bonds.
As part of celebrations to mark the Ethiopian New Year on Monday, the government gave awards to various individuals and organisations in recognition of their contribution to the fundraising efforts.
The awards ceremony on New Year’s Eve saw companies and individuals who contributed at least US$100 000 getting the silver award.
Those who bought bonds worth more than US$400 000 received the golden award.
Companies and individuals that gave between US$ 500 000 to a million received the platinum award.
Business tycoon Sheik Mohammed Ali Alamoudi was given a special award after he pledged to buy bonds worth US$100 million.
According to the government, the awards are meant to motivate Ethiopians to continue supporting the project.
The dam was launched in April despite opposition from Egypt, which says the dam will reduce the amount of water flowing downstream.
But Ethiopia insists that the construction of the dam will not affect downstream countries such as Egypt or Sudan.
Despite the assurances, Ethiopia and Egypt have been locked in discussions over the viability of the dam.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly said nothing will stop his country from constructing the dam.
When complete, a hydropower station with a capacity to generate around 5 250 megawatts of electricity will be set up in the next three and four years.
Electricity generation is expected to start in the next two years.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hailemariam Dessalegn said Ethiopians continued to buy the bonds.
Dessalegn who is also the chairperson of the national committee for the construction of the dam said Ethiopians were offering various other kinds of support for the project.
Ethiopia plans to become Africa’s exporter of electricity after constructing several dams along the Nile.
It is already started selling electricity to Djibouti and plans to start exporting to Sudan early next year.
The Horn of Africa country has also undertaken to export electricity to Kenya.
Power interconnections infrastructure work is currently being undertaken between Ethiopia and Kenya with the support from the African Development bank, which has provided over $ 300 million for the project.