As Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) nears completion, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is pursuing an initiative – forming an Ethiopian construction conglomerate from the expertise gained on Africa’s largest hydropower project to date.
The Prime Minister outlined his vision to establish a construction firm that will unite the expertise of professionals working on the GERD project to establish an Ethiopian construction giant capable of taking on ambitious infrastructure projects.
During a New Year’s address broadcasted to the public from the project site in the presence of federal and regional officials, Abiy expressed his vision, emphasizing his determination to preserve and harness the remarkable expertise acquired through the GERD project.
Initiated by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in April 2011, the dam has made significant strides, with the overall completion standing at an impressive 93 percent and over 8,000 personnel actively engaged.
Ashebir Balcha, executive officer of Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), corroborated the Prime Minister’s vision. He says that while the details of the firm’s structure are still being finalized, plans are already underway to consolidate and institutionalize this highly skilled workforce.
Notably, Abiy highlighted that approximately 98 percent of the individuals involved in the GERD project are Ethiopian citizens, including heads and managers, showcasing the nation’s exceptional capability and commitment.
While there are a few foreign experts, such as employees from Salini Impregilo and other foreign firms, Abiy emphasized that the practical experience gained by the project’s workforce, ranging from four to thirteen years, surpasses what formal universities can offer.
By consolidating and retaining this experienced workforce through the establishment of a dedicated construction firm, Ethiopia can leverage their expertise to undertake similar dam projects across Africa and even beyond, Abiy says.
Abiy shared that upon completion, the dam’s water capacity will reach an impressive 72 billion cubic meters, surpassing the combined capacity of all Ethiopian lakes such as Ziway Lake, Lake Awasa, Chamo Lake, Lake Abijatta, Lake Tana, Shala Lake, and others, which amounts to approximately 70 billion cubic meters.
Recognizing the potential advantages of consolidating the GERD project’s workforce, Tigabu Atalo, an expert in the energy sector, also highlighted the challenge of integrating individuals who have worked under different companies and performed diverse roles.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged the work ethics and track record of the GERD project workforce over the past decade, emphasizing that expertise and experience will undoubtedly play a significant role in the sector.
Tigabu says that establishing a dedicated construction firm is not an entirely unique occurrence, as any construction company could potentially be formed after accumulating similar experience.
In a recent announcement, Abiy proudly declared, “We have successfully concluded the fourth and final filling of the dam,” marking a major milestone in the project.