Is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Transforming Ethiopia’s Regional Role?
Major hydropower projects, such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Ethiopia, invite enquiry into the potential to increase the generation, transmission and distribution of power, how best to finance these infrastructures and how to balance them with the call for a sustainable development approach.
Analyses of these projects make little reference, however, to the potential for interregional co-operation that goes beyond the construction of the dam and a focus on power pooling.
Concentrating on the GERD, this paper identifies several challenges to energy co-operation between Ethiopia and regional stakeholders. It argues that Ethiopia’s ownership of the GERD, the recent trade agreement between SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community, and growing interest in regional power pooling have created a timely opportunity for greater energy co-operation. Such cooperation will be sustained by an increase in power supply in these regions, but also by shifting national perspectives on regional prospects.