Solomon Dibaba: ENA
A mammoth public gathering dedicate to the 6th anniversary of laying the cornerstone for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Hydroelectric Renaissance Dam (GERD) and lighting the Renaissance Torch was conducted on the 26th of March 2017 in the presence of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, higher government officials and members of the National Council for public participation on the dam and representatives of civil society organizations was conducted at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa.
In his keynote address on the occasion, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalege lauded the multi-faced national efforts made in the construction of GERD and congratulated the peoples of Ethiopia on the success attained so far and on the progress of the construction of the dam.
“When the construction of GERD was declared six years back with the time transcending call from our late great leader Melese Zenawi, we have managed to mobilize the peoples of Ethiopia who had strong desire and preparedness to construct the dam. We are colorfully celebrating the 6th anniversary of the dam with successes in which we are half way through the construction.”
Describing the significance of the dam, Hailemariam said “For us, Ethiopians, GERD is far more than a grand project; it is also the source of our national pride.”
He also mentioned the sacrifices and struggle made by the nations, nationalities and peoples in ensuring the unity of the country. “In addition to possessing their own identity and history, our nations, nationalities and peoples embrace a spirit of Ethiopian patriotism which has overcome all challenges and put our enemies to ignominy.”
The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts made by the peoples of Ethiopia on the construction of the dam. “Words cannot express the level of the unity exhibited by our people’s right from the days on which the construction of GERD has started. The peoples of Ethiopia vowed to put their marks on the construction of the dam without any recourse to racial, color, gender and difference in economic and social status.”
The Premier also expressed his appreciation to all Ethiopians on behalf of the government for the huge efforts they made towards the construction of the dam.
“I would like to express my heartfelt felicitations, congratulations and thanks to the peoples of Ethiopia, senior citizens, religious leaders, scholars, the youth, men and women of fine arts, investors, media outlets, the defense forces, the police forces, Ethiopians and citizens of Ethiopian origin in the Diaspora and children who selflessly contributed to the construction of the dam.”
In addition to the benefits that the dam will bring to the country, Hailemariam noted it’s importance in fostering the cooperation, unity and solidarity that it will bring forth among the Nile Riparian countries.
“GERD will enable us to strengthen our cooperation and solidarity with the Nile riparian countries at a much higher level. GERD has convinced even those who failed to understand the basic goal of the construction of the dam to eagerly wait for its final completion.”
Expressing the full commitment of the government towards the completion of GERD, Hailemariam said: “I would like to assure you all that the government will follow up on the construction process of the dam with full accountability so that it would continue with full speed and quality.”
The Renaissance Torch lit on that day aiming to revitalize the support of the public with a new spirit officially started its tour to all regional states and autonomous city administrations.
Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen who also presided on the public gathering started his speech by saying: “We were a great nation and will be great.”
“The fact that our country Ethiopia was one of the great nations in the world is an indicator for our greatness. However, poverty and destitution has become an indicator of our regression” Demeke added.
The deputy premier lauded the nature of public participation on the construction of the dam. “GERD is a project which vividly showed the multi-faceted participation of our peoples and an indicator of the growing sense of ownership on the project.”
Demeke compared the heroic success that the peoples of Ethiopia registered at the Battle of Adwa with the tenacity of the public in sponsoring the construction of the dam.
“The achievements that we have registered at the Battle of Adwa tally and tune with our success in the construction of GERD. The dam has raised our aspirations and hope after the Battle of Adwa.”
Speaking on the occasion of the lighting of the Renaissance Torch, Diriba Kuma, Mayor of Addis Ababa said: “GERD is an indicator of our success in constructing a mega project with our own finance, manpower and knowledge in our quest to fight off poverty. It indicates our ability to make possible any areas of activity in our united effort, renewed energy and quality.”
Mayor Diriba Kuma added “This is the day on which we renew our commitment to the completion of the GERD. The residents of Addis Ababa including the adults and children, poor and rich alike have contributed towards the construction of GERD.”
The 6th anniversary of the laying of cornerstone of the dam will be marked at Guba Woreda in Benishanguel Gumuz State, where the project is sited, on 2 April 2017.
Office for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of GERD reported that to date, out of the total 12.4 billion Birr pledged by the public and private investors, some 9.6 billion Birr has been collected. Ethiopians and citizens of Ethiopian origin in the Diaspora contributed more than 420 million USD for the construction of GERD.