Ethiopian workers contribute US$200 million for dam construction


Posted on August 4, 2011 14:36

Ethiopia says it has mobilised about US$ 200 million from private and government employees towards the construction of Africa’s biggest dam over the Nile River.

The project has created a diplomatic row between Ethiopia and neighbouring Egypt, which is against the construction of the dam.

Ethiopia has projected that the Great Renaissance Dam will produce around 5,250 megawatts (MW) of electricity when complete in 2015.

Generation of electricity will start in two years.

The construction of the dam, to be fully funded by the government will cost US$ 5 billion which is almost equivalent to Ethiopia’s annual budget.

After launching the project in April, the government introduced the selling of bonds both locally and abroad to generate money for its implementation.

Ordinary Ethiopians have been using their monthly salaries to buy the bonds. School children have also not been left out as they have given donations towards the project.

A committee tasked with the mobilisation of funds for the project on Thursday said US$ 200 million had been collected so far from the government and private employees.

The money was donated in the form of grants from their salaries.

However, the committee decided to convert the funds to bonds.

“This was made just to encourage the saving culture among the public,” the committee said.

A number of private organisations and business people have also bought the bonds.

Meanwhile, Egypt is insisting that its colonial-era agreements with Britain prohibit other countries from building dams over the Nile River.

But the two countries have held negotiations over the dam with Ethiopia insisting that the construction will not affect the water flow of the river but will rather benefit Sudan and Egypt.

The two countries have also established a joint committee to study the impact of the project even though Ethiopia insists that nothing will stop it from constructing the dam.

The dam will flood 1,680 square kilometers of forest in northwest Ethiopia, near the Sudan border, and create a reservoir that is nearly twice as large as Lake Tana, the country’s largest natural lake.

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