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The continuous development of different countries across the world and the need for their interconnection as a result of the benefits of globalization presents the necessity for having infrastructure and why less developed countries should invest more in infrastructural developments. According to Deloitte (2012), one of the top economic and developmental challenges faced by sub-Saharan African countries is the lack of adequate physical infrastructure. The Infrastructure Consortium of Africa (ICA, 2009) further advance that greater economic activity among African countries enhanced efficiency and increased competitiveness between companies and international businesses are all hampered by inadequate transport, communication and power infrastructure. Despite the great strides that have been made by independent African countries to ensure adequate roads, railways and airways to enhance transport (Kola-Lawal, 2019), many African Countries including Ethiopia still significantly lack when it comes to power infrastructure. While the world is ready and to a significant extent eager to do business with Africa, African markets still remain difficult to access especially in interior remote areas that not only lack infrastructure but also power making communication even more difficult. This chapter looks to delineate the concept of power infrastructure along with its benefits, drawbacks and challenges for sustainability and includes a case study of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Power infrastructure refers to the availability of adequate power within a country, economy or society to enable continued economic and social development. Das (2017) defines power infrastructure as the generation, transmission and distribution systems for electricity that is essential to the functioning of all other infrastructure and every aspect of the economy. Hoicka and McArthur (2021) advances that electricity (power) infrastructure provides an invincible significant layer of modern life through the network of wires, towers, dams and turbines that is responsible for literally powering the economy and other social practices as such the development of power infrastructure is fundamental to a nations’ social and economic growth and development.
Ntebo, Mathe and Ayorinde (2019) further advance that Power infrastructure is imperative for nation building and helps create employment and improve the well-being of citizens. The world is increasingly becoming over dependent on secure, sustainable and affordable energy such that countries that do not have enough power supply often end up disadvantaged when it comes to social and economic development. Foreign investment as well as transportation and tourism which are some of the major economic and social aspects that sub Saharan African countries thrive on are significantly limited with the unavailability of adequate power and energy supplies (Bridge, Ozkaynak and Turhan, 2018). However based on the study of the Impacts of Power Infrastructure Development in the Socio-Economic Situations in Sub-Sahara Africa carried out by Ntebo, Mathe and Ayorinde (2019) power infrastructure development in Sub Saharan African countries have significant economic benefits including increased wealth creation, a boost in citizens income, improved education and learning systems, improvement in health care. This has necessitated the development of multiple power infrastructures in sub-Saharan countries especially in hydro electricity producing dams such as the GERD in Ethiopia. However what are the benefits of these dams and power project and how do they impact the economy, society, environment and sustainability?
A dam refers to a structure (often concrete structure with heavy reinforcement) built across a river or stream to hold back the water and develop a reservoir. According to Guthrie and Donald (2020) dams are often primarily built for the purposes of hydro electric power production and to minimize peak discharge of floodwater as a result of heavy snow melt or large storms which increase the amount of water in a river. In addition to regulating the river to prevent floods, dams can also be built to regulate the depth of water in the river in order to enhance navigation and allow bigger vessels to travel through more easily. George, Hotchkiss, and Huffaker ( 2017) advance that a majority of dams have also been built purely for the purpose of regulating and diverting river waters to enable water storage for agricultural production as well as human and commercial consumption. Dams can also provide a lake for recreational activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. However in the contemporary world many dams are built for a wider range of purposes, For instance a single reservoir can be developed for hydro electric power generation, to support fishing and other recreation activities as well as regulate and store river water to support irrigation systems (Guthrie and Donald, 2020). Water-control structures of this type are often designated multipurpose dams.
Dams and such power and water projects have significantly different benefits for different nations, and the local population especially given that proper management of water has a significant impact on the development opportunity of a particular area as well as their ability to maintain the water supply.
Energy plays a significant role in socio-economic development of a country and at present hydro power provides an affordable, clean and renewable energy source which is also the most advanced and economically viable source of renewable energy (Bhakra Beas Management Board, 2020). One of the key benefits associated with dams is the development of hydroelectricity. The world is increasingly becoming reliant on secure, sustainable and affordable energy leading to significant demands of electricity. AON (2020) advance statistics by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projecting an increase of up to 48% in global energy consumption in the next two decades. This not only puts significant pressure in the need for electricity production but also highlights the significance of dam construction to provide clean and reliable energy for social and economic development.
As a result of the significant variations in hydrological cycles across the globe, dams are required to be constructed to store water during periods of surplus water availability and conserve the same for utilization during lean periods when the water availability is scarce. Dams lead to the development of large water reservoirs which help in the storage of water for various multiple usages. According to Bhakra Beas Management Board (2020), the water stored in reservoirs helps to make up for water crises in dry seasons in addition to ensuring a regular water supply for residential and industrial consumption. Further, the regulated flow of water from reservoirs help in diluting harmful dissolved substances in river waters during lean periods by supplementing low inflows and thus contributes to maintaining and preserving quality of water within safe limits.
Flooding in rivers has been known to cause extensive destruction and damaging of property of people who live near them. Dams and reservoirs can be effectively constructed and used to help control the flow of floodwater by diverting its course towards other uses, storing the excess water or releasing it with caution. According to Arcadia (2021) Dams are often designed, constructed and operated based on a specific plan for routing floods through the basin without any damage to life and property of the people. The water that is stored by a dam during the flooding season can then be utilized for other purposes such as irrigation which indicate another significant benefit for dams.
One of the most significant merits of dams is the role they play in irrigation. Dams and reservoirs are constructed to store surplus waters during wet periods, which can be used for irrigating arid lands (Bhakra Beas Management Board, 2020). One of the major benefits of dams and reservoirs is that water flows can be regulated as per agricultural requirements of the various regions over the year. This water storage, regulation and direction enables farmers to handle the problems associated with watering crops resulting to a boost in crop and food production for the socio-economic development of the country or area.
Besides mitigating floods, dams often prove useful in retaining detrimental sedimentation. In fact, they may also come in handy in preventing the disposition of hazardous material and subsequent contamination (Vedantu, 2021). Further dams are also used to regulate the depth and quantity of waters within rivers to enable and enhance inland water transport navigation all of which further contribute towards socio-economic development of the area or nation building the dam.
Dams also provide an additional benefit to the social lifestyle of human beings by providing recreational sites and facilities. According to Vedantu (2021) reservoirs developed as a result of dam construction presents a beautiful lake view which is a great source of recreation, especially in areas where natural surface waters are rare or non-existent. During construction, recreation benefits such as fishing, swimming and boating are put into consideration to help it achieve the full benefits of a multipurpose project including recreation.
Despite these multiple benefits associated with dam construction however, there are significant drawbacks and challenges that impact the development of a dam and may hamper the progress of s dams’ development similar to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The construction of large dams and reservoirs impacts the ecological system of rivers and affects the human population. According to Terêncio et al. (2018), the development of large dams and reservoirs hurts the environmental balance. It reduces the seasonal variability of flow, changes the frequency and timing of floods leading to possible coastal erosion in addition it also affects the water quality. The significant aspects that harm to the sustainable infrastructure development of dams and reservoirs projects involve issues such as resettlement and rehabilitation, Environment and forests, sedimentary issues, social economic issues, safety aspects, channel structure and flow regime as well as the ultimate water quality.
Developing and constructing dams often come at high costs and can lead to significant risks for disaster afterwards, especially when there are concerns with its integrity. According to Arcadia (2017) the engineering and technical aspects, along with the actual construction of the dam is a time intensive and laborious process that has to be done with absolute precision. Any potential mistake leaves the dam structurally unstable and a significant risk should the dam collapse. The excessive flooding caused by the collapse not only provides danger to the population living nearby, it also provides an environmental hazard to the ecosystems living down river.
Dams often disrupt the natural flow of water and can significantly impact the environment in and around rivers greatly. Arcadia (2017) points out that rushing river waters replenish the nutrients in the soil in water which in turn is beneficial to the ecosystem within and at the banks of river ways. Diverting or trapping such waterways will as such greatly disrupt such delicate ecosystems leading to the extinction of less adaptable species and the alteration of the natural ecosystem.
The blocking of a rivers flow as is the case in the construction of dams also impacts the blockage of all debris and sediments carried within the river water flowing down river. Priyadarshir (2019) asserts that when water rushes through a dam and its internal turbines, it can create a great spot for sediment layers to be trapped and congregate, which then can pollute the water and disrupt the ecology of the water environment. The sediments that collect at the botyom of the lake formed by the dam will also build up overtime to exert additional pressure on the dam leading to the emergence of a structural hazard.
Construction of dams can also impact significant social and economic issues especially to the communities living around the rivers where the dams are constructed. According to American Rivers (2021) building dams effectively chokes the life out of naturally flowing rivers thereby imoacting permanent damage to the local economies and people depending on the river. Dams have been known to cause a complete extinction of certain species of fish that is dependent on for food and survival. In such scenarios, dams not only impact people’s social livelihoods but also their economic development by cutting out a major source of the local economy.
While dams are thought to be one of the solutions to the global climate crisis, there is evidence that the construction and development of dams is in fact a major cause of the climate crisis. According to American Rivers (2021), Hydropower dams flood large areas forcing people to relocate, threatening freshwater biodiversity, disrupting subsistence fisheries, and leaving rivers dry thereby substantially affecting the ecosystem. Further development of dams leads to continued damage to river systems. In addition, studies forecast that the methane emissions from hydropower plants may be substantially higher than energy gains contributing up to 20% of manmade emissions leading to significant environmental pollution. As such development and construction of dams continue to impact the environment and contribute to the climate crisis.
According to studies by researchers in Europe cited by American Rivers (2021) development of dams will significantly reduce the number of free flowing rivers around the world by 21%. The overflowing water by the dams further lead to the destruction of the rivers structure and flow regime all of which have significant impacts to the natural ecosystem within the rivers.
International project management refers to the management of projects in the international scale or across borders and cultures. Rashi (2020) defines it as the management of projects that involve multinational resources and personnel working together towards the achievement of common project goals and objectives. As a result of globalization, there has been an increased integration and interdependence between different countries across the world leading to the development of a global economy. O’Halloran (2014) asserts that the global economy has enabled businesses and organizations to continue expanding into new countries and markets either to cut down on production costs by utilizing more efficient and cheap resources found in those countries or to increase their market share in the other countries. This leads to the development of business operations across several countries with completely different cultures and business policies. Further as a result of globalization, there has been an increase in the number of international projects such as the GERD Dam (Bortot, 2018). These projects involve structures and resources that span across different countries and have the potential of significantly impacting all these countries leading to the need for international collaboration in their management and maintenance and necessitating the need for international project management.
Despite the increase in the number of international projects over the past few decades as a result of globalization and technological advancements surveys cited by Bortot (2018) show that only 40% of the currently completed international projects were successful, thereby indicating a significant need for the advancement of international project management tools and techniques. International project managers will also require significant skills such as multicultural knowledge and skills to be able to adequately manage international projects. International management comes with a wide range of challenges that that are not covered by any standard methods of project management in the national level. Some of the challenges include cultural differences, language barrier, and difference in business policies and legal requirements.
International project management despite being uncertain and with less recorded success rate has significant benefits not only in enhancing the completion of the project but also in the impact it has for the involved countries. International projects often have a socio-political and economic aspect outlining all the benefits that all participating nations will have (O’Halloran, 2014). Adequate international project management will as such not only ensure adequate collaboration and integration of each of the nations resources towards the success of the project but also ensure that each country receives the benefits that they bargained for in the development of the project. In this way the countries are significantly unified by the international project and can use it as a benchmark for political and economic integration to enhance better stability. A good example of this is the east African Community consisting of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania who share the Lake Victoria and benefit from it economically and in political interrelations.
International project management however has significant challenges including cultural differences which are one of the major reasons for minimal success in the attempted international projects (Bortot, 2018).
According to O’Halloran (2014) one of the most difficult challenge, companies has to undergo are cultural differences. People do not have the same perception of power, happiness, time line or team works and it can have a huge impact on the success of a project. While some countries especially those with almost similar histories can align in terms of culture, others have completely different cultural and social norms. A good example is the differences in cultural norms of western countries such as the US and Australia and Asian countries such as China and Japan. Such differences have significant impact on international project management and will as such require a specific international project management approach to solve
Different countries have different legal systems and laws that govern business activities and organizations. In addition, operating in one country as a foreign company or business wil also attract additional licensing and standards which may be significantly challenging or less viable to achieve. According to Poddar (2009) even the human resources in different countries have different expectations in terms of remunerations and working hours and the economies structures are ultimately entirely different for any two countries. Being able to manage personal and business activities in these different countries with different economies provides a significant challenge which can significantly impact the ultimate outcome of the project.
It is often unlikely that international projects will have all the employees speaking in the same language. The differences in working language used by members of a similar team leads to language barrier which can significantly slow the progress and development of the project leading to delayed achievement of milestones and objectives which can subsequently translate to failure. Ten Six (2011) further assert that the problem of a common language is far greater in working places where colleagues have to speak in a language that they do not routinely work with. This is because of the limited level of adequate communication as a result of the lack of fluidity brought about by the use of more technical terms and jargons for efficiency and effectiveness of the working place. To avoid the challenge of language barrier it is worth specifying which language will be adopted by all members of the project management team
While the consideration of sustainability standards and planning of the project according to the international water management regulations and dam construction can be helpful, still, a particular nation's internal planning and expectation affect the sustainability of such projects (Karami and Karami, 2020). The construction industry uses different tools and techniques to maintain high standards and minimize risk in the design and development of dams and reservoirs. According to Lambrechts, Platje, and Van Dam (2019), the major priorities of a project team for the construction of dams and reservoirs involve gaining the public acceptance, assessment of all options for developing a blueprint, sustaining rivers and livelihoods, recognition of entitlements and share benefits across the international borders, ensuring compliance and maintaining quality. The proper planning and understanding of legal, political, geographical, and environmental standards are beneficial for the project teams to meet the project's goals.
Developing an action plan using project management tools and approaches is beneficial for project teams, as per Asveld and van Dam-Mieras, (2017), the project management techniques like the Critical Path Method (CPM). Program Evaluation and Review Techniques (PERT), Agile, and Prince 2 help develop the plan. Considering these tools allows the project teams to understand the progress, identify risks, plan the strategy to maintain the quality, and ensure compliance with the international standards. The leading construction organizations use these techniques to develop dams and reservoirs' design and construction operation management.
The major benefits that the international project management technique provides include close alignment of the project plan and the actual construction project, attaining reasonable variances to ensure adequate safety of the structure, adequate sustainability and quality standards improvements to help meet the goals of the project. According to Al-Janabi et al. (2020), the dams and reservoirs involve high risks both during construction and development as well as post-development. The proper identification of major issues related to environmental and geographical aspects can help develop the plan and make adequate use of resources to better improve its standards, sustainability and durability. In addition to enhancing quality and durability, project management tools and approaches for constructing dams and reservoirs also positively impact cost minimization given that effective planning and distribution of resources to all involved personnel significantly increase the project’s ultimate efficiency. However, the lack of project management actions and planning leads to many issues like changes in quality and lack of sustainability.
The project of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction and considered one of the largest dams (Bearak and Raghavan, 2020). The major purpose of developing this reservoir is to generate electricity. The dam project is located on the river Nile and the Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, and will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant and the seventh-largest globally upon its completion and commission (Ahmed, 2019). Despite recent tensions among Egypt, and Sudan who are concerned about the possible impact of the dam to the equitable sharing of the Nile waters, Ethiopia has again embarked on filling in the dam to develop the reservoirs and embark on the hydro electric power production (Mbaku, 2020).
One of the significance of developing the dam and reservoirs on rivers is to help manage the water and floods in the particular area. GERD will provide a major benefit for the Nile river waters regulation to minimize flooding and the destruction of people’s property within the region. The reservoir is three times bigger than Lake Tana and helps maintain the country's water supply (Zane, 2021). Apart from this, in the rainy season, the country will generate surplus electricity that will help industrial development and growth as the authority will provide low-cost electricity to them.
According to Emami and Koch (2018), the GERD dam is one of the largest dams in the world and can generate more than 6000MW electricity. This provides a major benefit of the design and development of GERD for hydropower production and increasing the electricity power for Ethiopia as well as the neighboring countries like Kenya, Djibouti, Somali and Sudan all of who can import electricity from Ethiopia, given the its necessity for national development. The dam will enhance the stabilization of Ethiopia’s main power grid and enable the production of surplus electricity for export to enhance the country’s economic development. According to Wheeler et al. (2020) the nearby countries like Sudan and others countries will also get the benefits of the development of GERD. The export and sales of electricity will help the country increase the foreign currency amount and maintain the growth in the GDP level.
Apart from this, development and project management authorities are looking forward to developing the place as a tourist destination which will help to attract local and international visitors (Zhang et al., 2016). The development of a dam will help channel the water resources and plan the new activities for local people to increase employment. It will help to promote water tourism, fishing, and improvement in the agriculture activities in nearby places that will help strengthen the internal economy of Ethiopia (Azimi Sardari et al., 2019). Further, the significant improvement in the number of visitors as a result of the development and commissioning of GERD will help encourage the country's GDP and enhance the opportunities for local businesses and people to earn a livelihood.
While GERD will without a doubt have significant benefits not only to Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia but also to Sudan and Egypt, the other two countries impacted by the project, it will also have significant challenges especially with regards to issues of sustainability that surround the project. Specifically, the sustainability of the dam encompasses three key areas including its structural safety and risk of collapse, its predominant economic and political issues as well as the environmental impact that the dam will have to the ecosystems around the dam.
Construction projects often come with a considerable degree of risk especially for mega structures such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. However in addition to the normal risks, the GERD dam has been repeatedly criticized by experts on its significant structural risk that is also tied to claims of the dam being oversize. According to The economist (2021) a group of international experts have reported structural design problems in Ethiopia’s plans to build Africa’s biggest hydropower dam on the Blue Nile River. The panel reported that the structural integrity of the dam in context with the underlying rock basement provides a danger of a sliding dam due to an unstable basement. This in addition to the reports of over sizing multiplies the risk with regards to the structural safety of the dam based on current designs and puts into question the ultimate sustainability of the project in the long term.
The development of the GERD Project has sparked significant political and economical issues especially between Egypt and Ethiopia all of which are significantly threatening the sustainability of the project. According to El-Nashar and Elyamany (2018) the development of the GERD dam will significantly disadvantage Egypt in terms of limiting the water in the river Nile which Egypt depends on to secure 95% of the water needed for different purposes as drinking, household uses, agriculture, fishing source, Water transportation, electricity generation and tourism. They point out that while the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is indeed a significant aspect of the Ethiopian development and economy and will significantly contribute towards enhancing the Ethiopian people’s standards of living, many researchers point out its negative impact on Egypt. This presents a significant issue in sustainability of the dam especially when considering the potential negative impact that the dam may have on Egypt and Sudan.
The dam has also sparked political controversy regarding the potential sharing of the resources’ benefits among the three countries. Elnour (2019) Asserts that while Ethiopia is looking to retain control of the entire project given that it is entirely located within Ethiopia, Egypt are also looking to have significant political control of over the project considering its potential impact to the Niles water supply and the amount of benefits to be gained from the largest power plant in Africa. The controversy when it comes to leadership and ownership as such will potentially disrupt the projects sustainability significantly.
The development and construction of the dam will lead to the development of a reservoir which will definitely lead to the relocation of the individuals and ecosystems within the vicinity of the Blue Nile. The possible relocation and resettlement of these communities and ecosystems presents a significant sustainability challenge for the GERD project. According to Financial Times (2013), the impact of the Ethiopian dam will include displacements and resettlements of people in the local vicinity as a result of flooding. It will also lead to the reduction of crop yields and increased health risk as a result of the surrounding area due to increased parasitic diseases as a result of the ecological changes. While a number of the relocated people may find new settlements, the Financial Times (2013) asserts that a majority of the locally displaced individuals who are forced out of the area will never recover socially and economically after the dams’ construction. This raises a matter of sustainability in terms of the ecological, social and environmental aspect of the dams’ construction.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Project is indeed a mega project that will not only impact Ethiopia’s economic and socio-political development but it will also benefit the neighboring countries such as Sudan due to an increased production of hydro electric power which is significant for all developing countries. However, alongside the benefits that the dams’ constriction will bring including enhanced Hydro Electric Power production, storage and conservation of water, development of tourism and recreation activities as well as flood control, irrigation and internal navigation, it also comes with significant downsides and potential risks for sustainability. Some of these potential risks and drawbacks include significant displacement of the local population, environmental and ecosystem impacts, minimization of water supply for Egypt along with other cultural, political, social and economic differences. However despite all these setbacks, through International Project Management, the country can in collaboration with the other affected countries in Egypt and Sudan adequately develop the project to be beneficial and impactful to all of the three countries involved and the continent of Africa as a whole. Through benefits of international management such as international relations and coordination, the dam will be adequately redesigned and developed to minimize the potential impacts it may have on Egypt and Sudan. It will also be better developed to serve the country and the entire continent by boosting its production of Hydro electric power and significantly boosting economic development.
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