On 2nd April, Ethiopians all over the world celebrated the third anniversary of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), launched in 2011 by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The $4.7bn project, mostly funded by Ethiopians at home and abroad, is being built in Western Ethiopia near the Sudan border and is 33% complete.

Events were held both at the site of Dam construction and across the country, including an art exhibition at the National Museum, a musical drama at Addis Ababa University and sport competitions. Senior government officials attended the commemoration at the site of the Dam, held under the motto “We shall complete what we’ve started.”

The Ethiopian Electric Power Manager Engineer, Ms Azeb Asnake, said the construction was on schedule. A representative of Salini Construction Group, expressed his appreciation of the “inspiring spirit” everyone involved had demonstrated. The last three years had been a time of “rich achievement and progress was visible and significant,” he said.

Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister, Alemayehu Tegenu, said the Dam was one of several massive projects designed to move the country forward towards prosperity. He said Ethiopia is committed to continuing talks with Egypt to narrow their differences and will continue to ensure win-win benefits for all Nile Basin countries.

Keynote speaker, Deputy PM Demeke Mekonnen, said the GERD has brought an end to injustices in the use of the Nile Waters. The Dam is one of the cornerstones of Ethiopia’s Renaissance and Ethiopians should continue to demonstrate their commitment to its completion. The International Panel of Experts had made clear that the level of construction and the materials used fully meet international standards. Massive public support had made this “a golden and historic example.”

Here in London, diplomats and staff at the Embassy pledged a month’s salary to buy bonds amounting to £68,250 (around 2,120,000 Birr). They had previously raised £60,000 (1,920,000 Birr) in support of the Dam project, which upon completion will generate 6,000MW of power to help feed Ethiopia’s fast growing economy.

H.E. Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, urged compatriots to intensify engagement in development endeavours to help realize growth and economic prosperity in Ethiopia.

In a recent article, Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom, said the Nile “is a symbol of cooperation and collaboration” and Ethiopia will uphold its principled stance to work for a win-win solution regarding the utilization of the Nile waters.

Three years after the cornerstone was laid, construction is proceeding well because of unprecedented popular support. Ethiopians have been inspired by the knowledge that the GERD has been carefully designed to avoid any damage to lower riparian countries, and will support regional growth, and have given it unprecedented political and practical backing.