By ABN staff writer
The Government of Ethiopia recognizes that a partnership needs to be built with the diaspora to benefit both parties and has worked to grant significant rights and privileges to the diaspora since the establishment of the Ethiopian Expatriate Affairs (EEA) in 2002, and the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency later. The Ethiopian government has encouraged the diaspora to invest in the country both financially and through knowledge exchange to assist in developing the country and improving its fiscal situation
With an ever increasing remittance flows over the last couple of decades, the diaspora’s role in the development efforts of the country has gained broader interest from both researchers and receiving countries. Besides financial remittances, flows of skills, knowledge, and social remittances have also gained more attention, particularly the relevance of diaspora associations as drivers of development processes. In this article, we explore the role of Ethiopian diaspora across the globe in supporting to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD)
The diaspora has contributed close to 50 MILLION dollars. As a result, the financial contribution of the diaspora to the construction of GERD has quadrupled from a little over 784,000 dollars in 2012 EC to over 3 million dollars in the past nine months alone. This contribution was made either by buying bonds or giving large sums of money as a gift for the completion of the dam. In total, over the last ten years, the diaspora has contributed close to50 million dollars.
Considering the impact of the financial contribution the diaspora has been making over the years, the government is devising different approaches that can harness the diaspora’s potential to the fullest. Whenthese mechanisms become operational, they are supposed to boost the financial support.
The diaspora has also intensified its fight for Ethiopia’s equitable share of the Nile waters. In the quest for Ethiopia’s legitimate rights over the Nile waters, many in the diaspora have held rallies in support of Ethiopia’s stride towards providing light to its people in the dark. Major cities across the world be it in the US, Europe and Australia have witnessed avalanches of Ethiopian’s and friends of Ethiopia in their streets requesting Ethiopia’s fair share on the Nile, among others.
Members of the Ethiopian diaspora have not only filled streets of western capitals for the request of equitable share of the Nile waters, they have also been making different public relations campaigns and advocating Ethiopia’s cause to the whole world by using media outlets. Ethiopians’ residing in the Arab countries or those who are eloquent in Arabic language have become common faces in Arabic channels challenging the status quo
of Egyptian monopoly of the narrative in that part of the world. Little by little wrong narrative that have been taken for granted are being deconstructed and a new reality which portrays the facts on the ground is being constructed by Ethiopians versatile in Arabic culture and the history of their beloved country. Chief among Ethiopians prominent in Arabic channels include Mohammed Al Arusi andUstathJemal Bashir The same challenges towards deconstructing wrong narratives in the west that attest the Nile as Egypt’s sole property are being made by Ethiopian scholars working in western Universities and other members of the Ethiopian diaspora. These strides made by individual Ethiopians like DrAklogBirara, Prof. Almemariam (you can find his argumentative pieces on the Nile on his personal blog:http:// almariam.com/?s=Nile), etc… and many public diplomacy teams of Ethiopian origin are bearing fruits.
Now Egyptians’ cries are falling on deaf ears as the world is beginning to grasp the facts of the matter on the waters of the Nile thanks to the huge efforts exerted by the Ethiopian diaspora. Due to these efforts, the necessity of the Nile waters for lighting over 60% of Ethiopians’ is understood; the vast difference in terms of basic necessities that exists between Ethiopia and Egypt is uncovered; and last but not least a win-win approach which could happen by sitting around the table, not a zero-sum game of beating the drums of war, is accepted as a way forward by major powers of the world.
This was possible because Ethiopians in the diaspora have worked tirelessly to show the world how Ethiopia has been treated unfairly with regards to the Nile waters. The facts argued by the diaspora include: While Ethiopia contributesover 86% of the Nile waters, over 60% of its population lives in the dark,Egypt has achieved universal access of electricity to all of its citizens. While Ethiopia asks for fair and equitable share of the Nile waters, the downstream countries try to enforce a colonial era agreement which leaves 0% of the Nile waters for Ethiopia.
As any reasonable mind cannot defy these solid facts, numerous attempts made by the downstream countries to deny Ethiopia its rightful requests towards using the Nile waters fairly and equitably were futile.