Commercial Bank of Ethiopia: Energizing GERD

“IT’S OUR DAM” Special Edition @ABN

Ever since its establishment the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia/CBE/ has significantly been playing a major role in the overall socio-economic development of the country. More importantly, its role in the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam/GERD/ appears to be very critical.

As GERD belongs to Ethiopians, so does to the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia which has provided over 93.3 billion birr’s of the financial  supply until last May 2020. In terms of foreign currency, the Bank has been pumping nearly 300 million dollars every year to the project. This’s a very significant share CBE has contributed since the commencement of the dam.

CBE has so far provided nearly 300 billion birrs for another hydroelectric and other sources of energy projects such as Giligel Gibe 1,2 and 3, solar, wind and waste-to-energy projects, among others

With regards to CBE employees’ contribution to the projects, they have contributed their monthly salary in two rounds while the Bank bought a ten-million birr bond although it is not significant.

CBE has not only undertaken loan supply service but it has also been dealing with complicated payment transactions and related financial management processes in the construction of the dam; the bank usually goes the extra mile to secure and supply foreign currency required for the project.

“GERD, for me, is a struggle against poverty and backwardness; it’s a move toward self-reliance. GERD is our future source of foreign exchange and pride; it’s key for the liberation of our economy.”

The Bank, more than any other government institution, is longing for the completion of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam; it wants to reap the fruit of the project as it has a huge investment in the dam. For CBE that is backing the whole construction, completion of the dam is a matter of life and death; it’s only when we could manage to complete the dam that we ensure the effectiveness of the project.

No country can speed up its economy without effective and proper generation, production, and distribution of energy. Hence, CBE can be taken as the main agent in the country that could bring about significant changes in energy production and supply; it’s responsible to back such a vital economic engine.

The construction of Ethiopia’s first large hydropower dam on the Blue Nile is a source of national pride for all Ethiopians. The dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, with a projected capacity of more than 6,000 megawatts. Ethiopia will start filling the reservoir behind the dam in July 2020

It is obvious that a number of factories and industries across the country are not operating with their full potential due to the ever-increasing energy demand and power shortage. 65 % Ethiopians are living in darkness; millions go to bed without having their dinner; even those able to feed themselves dine in darkness with harmful and unhealthy dim light produced from firewood and burnt gases.

I strongly believe that GERD remains to be the only megaproject in Ethiopia that has brought all Ethiopians from different walks of life wholeheartedly together, to make a living history that could change the nation’s image for the better.

As an Ethiopian I burst into tears when I first heard the news that the cornerstone for the construction of GERD had been laid, hoping that a shared vision was set, courage and brevity came out in the country. It was a special moment I began holding the belief that Ethiopia could get out of dependency syndrome. The bold decision to launch the mega-project undoubtedly sparked a signal that proves Ethiopians could do anything they need without others’ intervention, order, or command.

“The long-standing selfish behavior of Egypt to utilize the waters of the Nile River alone is an old-fashioned thought and is no longer acceptable.”

This mega project was, indeed, facing annoying mismanagement and delays in its construction process. The dam shouldn’t have been an experimental project for a local contractor with insufficient executing and poor quality management capacity. Though this caused huge public disappointment all over the country, it has now taken the right direction after the country embarked on promising socio-political reform.

President and CEO, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia/CBE/
Abie Sano

Regarding public participation and engagement, I am not yet satisfied with what has been done so far to let the general public on the project. Had the public participation been managed systematically and meticulously, it could have been higher than what it is now. For example, the public didn’t expect or want the return of the bond sale sooner than the completion of the project. Hence, public coordination and engagement should be reinvigorated through other new and modern approaches; they should also properly understand the pressure inflicted upon the Federal government and share the responsibility.

GERD, for me, is a struggle against poverty and backwardness; it’s a move toward self-reliance. GERD is our future source of foreign exchange and pride; it’s key for the liberation of our economy. Every Ethiopian should understand the very essence, significance, and implication of the project; Ethiopia doesn’t have the intention to be prospering alone, affecting the wellbeing of neighboring countries.

Egypt that has been making attempts to halt and interrupt the construction, always gets scared of the scenario that more investment and development would come to the Nile basin countries; the long-standing selfish behavior of Egypt to utilize the waters of the Nile River alone is an old-fashioned thought and is no longer acceptable.

As nearing completion, GERD, more than ever, needs strong collaboration and unity among Ethiopians. Despite differences in political outlook, everyone needs to stand together to complete this mega project, and think of other similar mega projects to be carried out in years to come.

We need to launch an effective campaign to engage the whole citizens that could strongly develop a sense of ownership over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in particular and the Nile at large. I have no slightest doubt that I can see the light of the dam in just a few years’ time.

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