I would say about a year ago, there was news about an American lender, JP Morgan Chase, to be precise, has approved the Ethiopian power and electric authority to borrow millions of dollar for the expansion of its hydro electric project at Gilgel Gibe III. On the same month, there was also news that an Environmental and Human Right advocate groups, were protesting to JP Morgan not to fund the project due to some un-convincing reasons such as there will be an environmental consequences and human displacement problems.
As a matter of fact, here is how the advocacy group protested to JP Morgan Chase: “We are writing to express our deep concern regarding JPMorgan Chase’s consideration of the provision of a $400 million commercial loan to the Government of Ethiopia for its controversial Gilgel Gibe III Hydroelectric Dam project...In this case, the use of loan proceeds would be for a damaging project that is in violation of national environmental and procurement laws as well as relevant international standards...The EIA reports that approximately 400 households (at least 2,000 individuals) will be displaced and social and commercial exchange between the communities living on both sides of the river will be interrupted”
Based on the above news, we the Diasporas, at one of the cyber discussion forum had heated discussion about the so called Environmental and Human Right advocacy groups’ intention to be involved. Participants were brainstorming as to who could be behind this conspiracy and why? The noble project will not only help Ethiopia but all neighbor countries.
The discussion was so informative and became very emotional when some of the participants said that “there are and will be always some groups and nations against Ethiopia when it comes to its own water use and they will never sleep at all.” They said these forces have a deadly illness called “Anti Ethio-Aqua-Phobia” (this is my expression)-that they won’t allow Ethiopia use its water resources.
As every discussion, that conversation had many suggestions and questions from participants on how to overcome such continuous obstacles permanently. One of the suggestion I brought up to the discussion as a permanent or may be an alternate solution was, to raise a capital locally and from Ethiopians in Diasporas to fund such a project instead of borrowing from a foreign investment bank that can be protested by any one any time as we have come to witness above.
In my opinion this project will benefit the whole nation. It is not only the financial profit when local stake holders will benefit from but also a pride that will uplift the belongingness to the nation we love. Particularly, when it comes to the Diaspora, on top of the financial profit, it will also create a bridge of attachment to the nation that we left for many personal reasons; call it political or economical.
As the saying, ‘blessing in disguise’, we Ethiopians had left our nation to live in all continents; some have earned many skills and knowledge and some have acquired a wealth through hard work. There is enough potential of knowledge, skill and money in Diaspora that can be useful for a nation building if it is manipulated effectively with a vision. This potential has never been used to the fullest by the Diaspora community and by the government in building our nation.
We will be in a better position than ever to help our people and nation if the government recognizes the potential of its people abroad and comes up with a vision like: letting the Diasporas to participate by investing its money on many possible investment levels that won’t require physical presence or relocating. Raising capital in order to implement major projects such as the hydro-electric power dams and others studied projects that elevate the nation from poverty and backwardness is one example.
According to many sources, there are over one million Ethiopian in Diaspora. For instance, if an average of $1000.00 a year is invested from a single Diaspora, over one billion dollar in hard currency can be raised in just one year. If this continues for many years to come, I am pretty sure the backwardness and poverty will be history and those enemies of Ethiopia will be shut down for good. We should believe that the destiny of our nation, Ethiopia, should be only determined by Ethiopians.
Even though the current financial crisis of the developed nation has no direct effect in Ethiopia now, it will have an effect on getting future loans from lenders, like the World Bank, African Bank etc to Ethiopia. Hence we Ethiopians in Diaspora should play a major roll on financing projects. This is a win-win situation; for us and for the nation.
There was news on ENA a week or two ago that EEPCo Millennium Bond was ready for sale. The news states “The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) Millennium Bond, aimed at soliciting money for the realization of national plan to expand electric power coverage, has been readied for Ethiopians Diaspora and Ethiopian origins”. This is timely news many were waiting for. The government and EEPCo should be proud for deciding to solicit money (hard currency) from its people in Diaspora in order to materialize the projects.
I hope every Ethiopian in Diaspora will participate on nation building by buying the first bond of its kind and I am also arguing the EEPCo to facilitate the transaction of acquiring the bonds in a transparent way-how, where and when to buy them. Since buying bond to many Ethiopians is a very new thing, adequate information is necessary through all available mediums.
In conclusion, if we can create a developed nation through our involvement in such kind we will help in reversing or stopping the brain drain of our able professionals for good. Investing in the nation building is an ever lasting bondage to our people and our country.
For any comments you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org