Saturday, April 27, 2013
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 York. Gitau Warigi’s column returns next week.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
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
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.
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.
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.
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.