Dr. Yacob Arsano currently serves as an Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University’s School of Political Science and International Relations (AAU- PSIR). Dr. Yacob’s research focus on hydropolitics, coupled with his adamant advocacy for equitable water use in the Nile Basin, makes him a leading authority on  inter-state relations in the Eastern Nile Basin.

His expertise, particularly on the construction  of the GERD project and the consequent  negotiations with riparian states, has allowed  for a scientific framing of recently emerging  water disputes in the region.


Dr. Yacob, Thank you for making time to speak to us on the occasion of the partial power  generation of the GERD project. How do you feel?

I am elated; so much so that I took it upon myself  to be at the GERD site to celebrate this important  milestone. Ethiopia, despite heavy foreign resistance,  managed to complete two rounds of reservoir filling.  The launch of the project’s partial-power generation  is not only an achievement worthy of celebration  but also serves to encourage Ethiopians to persevere  on this path. Despite the many challenges Ethiopia  continues to face, both foreign and domestic, I am  proud and encouraged by the incremental progress  we have made toward the realization of this project.

Though this milestone is worth the celebrations, both  the citizenry and the government should continue  to do as they have always done. From what we have  been told from the GERD Secretariat, the dam is 84%  complete; this occasion should also encourage the  current government to optimally utilize the allocated  resources for the timely completion of the project.

Horn Review:

What kind of preparation, in terms of the required infrastructure, can be expected on the government’s part to increase access to  electricity?

The generators at the Guba facility, at the GERD site, already have transformers that can handle up to 500kVa of power. When complete, this facility alone  is sufficient to power the nation given that this power  can be funneled into the existing power grids in the  country. In the future, when the dam can generate  power at capacity, the existing partial infrastructure  can help facilitate commercial use with our neighbors  in the region. Though there is always more work to  be done, Ethiopia seems to show similar progress in  its infrastructure development efforts.


What can be expected from, both the population and the government, to see this project to completion?

The support from citizens, as you know, has been all inclusive: from young to old, poor or rich, urban to  rural dwellers, all have contributed what they can to  see this project to completion. The Ethiopian people  have been donating, buying lottery and government  bonds, texting 8100, as well as participating in  fundraising activities. Now that we have started  partial power generation, I hope for a heightened  enthusiasm for completing the GERD.

Though this milestone is worth the celebrations, both  the citizenry and the government should continue to do as they have always done. From what we have been told from the GERD Secretariat, the dam is 84% complete; this occasion should also encourage the current government to optimally utilize the allocated resources for the timely completion of the project.


Given the unrelenting negative  international coverage of the GERD project, how  should this positive development be framed in  foreign media?

It is no secret that this project is a long-standing  dream for Ethiopians. Since its inception, the Dam was  intended to uplift our destitute society. Not only is the  dam being built within Ethiopian sovereign territory,  but it is also financed by the Ethiopian people. This  milestone, if anything, should serve to encourage  cooperation with our regional partners. The lone  strategy of demonizing the entire country to make a  political point hinders our prospects of cooperation  in the long run. While Egypt insists on remaining the sole decision-maker on their developmental pursuits  with Nile waters, i.e. within their borders, the double  standard in their demands of Ethiopia is made all the more evident. Media in all three nations can do more to promote an egalitarian viewpoint that encourages equitable use between all riparians. As the Nile is a transboundary river, media coverage should uphold standard expectations from all parties. To this end, media outlets need to promote honest and pragmatic conversations on this shared resource and put a stop to the mockery and single-sided arguments that do not promote a cooperative approach.


What, in your view, are the next steps for Ethiopia?

After the construction, grid preparations, and two  rounds of reservoir filling, there remains 16% until  the project’s full completion. With subsequent  construction, and as the dam gets higher, we are left  with two additional rounds of reservoir filling. Yes,  the first turbine has started to produce electricity,  however, our goal should be to see the same  incremental progress with all thirteen turbines.  The government must also plan for the necessary  infrastructure development to meet the population’s  demands, as well as profit commercially by selling to  regional neighbors. Lastly, Ethiopia should pursue  other hydroelectric dams to better meet the demands  of our growing population in its pursuit of self reliance.