Ethiopia to start producing energy at Grand Renaissance dam at end of 2020

In this file photo, Ethiopian workers stand on scaffolding during the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam near the Sudanese-Ethiopian border. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019

Ethiopia to start producing energy at Grand Renaissance dam at end of 2020

  • The planned 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centrepiece of Ethiopia's bid to become Africa's biggest power exporter
  • The project has caused problems with Egypt, which fears the dam will restrict Nile River waters coming down from Ethiopia's highlands to Egyptian fields and reservoirs

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia's $4 billion dam project on the River Nile, which has been beset by construction delays and criticism from Egypt, will start initial operations in December 2020, the water and energy minister said on Thursday.
The planned 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centrepiece of Ethiopia's bid to become Africa's biggest power exporter, but until this week progress had been unclear after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last August cancelled a state-run conglomerate's contract to build the turbines.
State media reported on Wednesday that the government had signed an agreement with GE Hydro France, a unit of GE Renewables, to accelerate the completion of the dam, and water and energy minister Seleshi Bekele said on Thursday the project was on track to open in two years' time.
"750 megawatts is the planned initial production with two turbines," Seleshi told parliament. The government expected the dam to be fully operational by the end of 2022, he said.
The project has caused problems with Egypt, which fears the dam will restrict Nile River waters coming down from Ethiopia's highlands, through the deserts of Sudan, to Egyptian fields and reservoirs.
Ethiopia disputes that and in November Abiy was quoted by Egyptian state media as saying he wanted to preserve Egypt's Nile rights.
When Abiy cancelled the contract of Ethiopian military conglomerate Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) in August, he said not a single turbine was operational more than seven years after the government awarded the contract. Dozens of senior officials from METEC, including its head, have been arrested in a corruption crackdown launched by the reformist leader who took office last year.
METEC had only completed 23 percent of the work, Seleshi said on Thursday.
There have been other construction delays.
"Purchased generators, turbines and other equipment are scattered in ports and other places, meaning more costs," Seleshi said.
GE Hydro France will be paid nearly 54 million euros ($61 million) to manufacture, fix and test turbine generators, state media said.


Panic grips Kashmir after internet crackdown

Updated 10 sec ago

Panic grips Kashmir after internet crackdown

  • Authorities use UAPA charges against those ‘misusing’ social media

NEW DELHI: When Yahia Mir steps outside of his home in Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir, he is careful to leave his smartphone behind. 

The 23-year-old journalism student from Kashmir University explained that he does so because he is scared of security forces discovering the Virtual Private Network (VPN) installed on his mobile phone.

Recently, Mir (not his real name) said, a friend of his was assaulted by officials who found a VPN on his phone.

“Everyone in the valley uses a VPN to connect with the outside world,” Mir told Arab News on Wednesday. “Tell me, how do you expect life to be normal when there is no internet?” 

The disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir has been under curfew following New Delhi’s annulment of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution — which guaranteed special autonomy to Kashmir, parts of which are governed in part by both India and Pakistan, but all of which is claimed by both countries to belong to them.

Since the Indian government annulled Article 370, there has been a crackdown on mobile and Internet services in the valley which, to date, have only been partially restored.

To get around the internet ban many in the valley turned to proxy networks, which allow users to anonymously connect with a third-person server outside of Kashmir.

On Tuesday, in a renewed crackdown, the Indian government filed charges against people “misusing” social media.

Local police in Srinagar registered cases against various unnamed individuals under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a draconian law that means anyone charged cannot seek bail for six months.

Police said that action would be taken against those who misused social-media sites to propagate “secessionist ideology and (promote) unlawful activities.”

“There have been continuous reports of misuse of social media sites by the miscreants to propagate secessionist ideology and to promote unlawful activities,” Jammu and Kashmir police said in a statement released on Tuesday, which went on to say that the “miscreants” were “propagating rumors with regard to the current security scenario of the Kashmir valley … and glorifying terror acts/ terrorists. 

“A lot of incriminating material has also been seized in this regard.” A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against the “miscreants.”

Mir told Arab News that this is “the government’s new way to terrorize the people of Kashmir.”

Legal professional Deeba Ashraf said the crackdown feels “as if we are living in the 19th century.”

She told Arab News: “My profession demands that I remain updated about recent cases and case laws. How is that possible without the internet?” She added that “even security personnel” in the valley are using VPNs.

“I have lost trust in the government and I don’t see which way Kashmir is going,” she continued. “The government’s crackdown scares everyone. But I wonder does the government have any policy for Kashmir besides lockdown?”

Computer engineer Muddasir (not his real name) agreed.

“Most of the people who needed the Internet for their professional survival have left the valley,” he said. “I am also thinking of leaving Srinagar to escape the prison that we are in. The sense of fear is so strong. Imagine: Security forces are checking your phone and trying to see what apps are on (it). Is this normal?”

Iltiza Mufti, daughter of the detained former Chief Minister of Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti, strongly condemned the government’s measures.

“The rest of the country — and the envoys who visited Kashmir — were told that we enjoy equal rights, but in reality you can’t even use VPN in Kashmir. What rights do Kashmiris have right now?” she asked in a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday.

“The clampdown in Kashmir (is taking a huge toll) and Jammu and Kashmir is grappling with an economic, psychological and emotional crisis,” added Mufti, who has become the face of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after her mother’s arrest last year.

Srinagar-based political analyst and writer, Gowhar Geelani, told Arab News: “This is an official admission by the Indian government of thought control of the entire population of Kashmir. This is a war against the people of Kashmir. The arrest of the three former chief ministers of the state and the detention of other political activists show that, in Kashmir, the only opinion that matters is the opinion of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”

Geelani added that there are “darker days ahead and not much hope.”