From Volume 37, Issue 14 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 9, 2010
Africa News Digest

Italian Construction Firm Slams Opponents of Dam in Ethiopia

March 30 (EIRNS)—A coalition of London-run green fascist organizations, led by "Rivers International" and Survival International, is opposing the Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia, a hydroelectric project that will double Ethiopia's power-generation capacity and will be the largest dam ever built in Africa. The dam is being built by the Italian company Salini Costruttori. On March 23, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published an article endorsing the anti-dam campaign, with the headline, "A Dam Dries Out 200,000 Ethiopians," calling on creditors to cut funds to the project. However, the contractors responded by threatening a lawsuit, and accusing opponents of the dam projects of being against the development of Africa.

The Salini firm issued a statement, published by Corriere March 28, calling this "an irresponsible campaign, led with statements based on huge factual errors and even a product of elementary arithmetic and technical mistakes.... The firm announces that it will defend itself in any forum, against unsubstantiated and defamatory attacks that very seriously damage the firm, the dignity of its technicians and workers, but above all the development of the entire Horn of Africa. In fact, through the Gibe projects, it will be possible to supply as much clean and renewable energy as two medium-sized nuclear power plants, thus allowing the sustainable development of one of the most depressed areas of the planet."

The Gibe III dam is being built on the Omo River, a tributary of Lake Turkana, the northern tip of which is in southern Ethiopia, while most of the lake is in Kenya. The dam will be 240 meters high, and its basin will be 150 km long. The hydroelectric turbines will produce 1,870 MW of power, doubling Ethiopia's existing capacity. Half of the new power will be exported to neighboring countries. Gibe III is part of the Gibe-Omo waterfall project, which includes Gibe I (operational) and Gibe II (almost completed, which is a 420 MW plant and includes a 26-km canal tunnel).

Rivers International was founded in 1985 at Berkeley University; its stated aim is to stop construction of dams around the world. As a spokesman of the anti-Gibe campaign, Corriere quotes Oxford anthropologist Marco Bassi, who was deployed in the Omo Valley: "The Kara and Kwegu tribes who live along the river are condemned to extinction, and all other tribes who live on the delta will be jeopardized." Stephen Corry of London-based Survival International said in a statement: "The Gibe III dam will be a disaster of cataclysmic proportions for the tribes of the Omo valley. Their land and livelihoods will be destroyed.... No respectable outside body should be funding this atrocious project." The fascist green coalition has called on the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the Italian government, not to issue the promised credits.

South Korea Offers Congo a Model of Rural Development

March 29 (EIRNS)—South Korean President Lee Myung Bak met with Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila in Seoul today, offering to provide aid and direction for the Congo's rural development, based on the highly successful Korean model of the 1970s. That policy, called the Saemaeul Movement, was established by nationalist President Park Chung-hee, providing villages with the materials and the know-how to build basic physical infrastructure, utilizing their own labor. The Park government followed up on the programs by providing materials for the next step of the project, if the villages carried through on their side of the deal. If not, they were to be bypassed. This forced both physical development and upgrading of skill levels in rural areas.

Lee and Kabila discussed the development of energy and natural resources, the construction of infrastructure such as harbors, power-generation facilities, and the modernization of roads. Lee promised support in the construction of infrastructure and homes, job creation, and health education.

According to today's Korean Herald, "Since 2004, Korea has invited Congolese community leaders to share its know-how in rural development and provided financial support to improve rural infrastructure and develop farms in the country, from which Korea seeks to expand the Saemaeul Movement across Africa."

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