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Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I



LAYING FOUNDATION STONE OF KOKA DAM


Almighty God in His infinite wisdom and bounty has blessed Our Empire with various incomparable riches, not the least of which is the wealth of our country's water resources. The development of these resources has been Our constant preoccupation and We are today taking the first step in Our programme for the fullest utilization of this God-given gift for the benefit of Our people, marking thereby the high place which We have ascribed to the matter of water resources in Our overall planning. Unlike so many lands around her, Ethiopia has been especially blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and the prolific amount of her annual rainfall makes her fitly to be called “the Water Tower of the Horn of Africa.” Millions of square miles of territory together with millions of human beings and their livestock depend on the water that flows from Ethiopia's mountains, and from her comes more than two-thirds of the waters of the Nile.

It is the duty and privilege of this generation and or posterity to conserve and develop these precious resources. To fail to do so will be to fail in our God-given responsibility. In building dams for impounding these waters and utilizing the hydro-electric power to be secured from them, We are giving a powerful impetus to all the programmes We have laid out for the economic development of Our country. We are thereby protecting from erosion the rich and precious soil of Our Empire, and are storing up waters for irrigation, for increasing our agricultural and plantation potential. We are thus providing the sinews of industry through the generation of electric power and finally, We are aiding the development of transportation in securing the means for eventual electrification. The rapid growth of our population and the fast pace of our economic expansion call for the early fulfilment of those development programmes. For example, in the city of Addis Ababa alone, with its highly restricted generating capacity, 47% of the electricity produced is now being consumed in industrial installations. It is obvious that the addition of other sources of hydro­electric power will give a tremendous impulsion to the development of our industrial potential.

It is for this reason that, out of the 40 million Ethiopian Dollars to be paid by Italy to Ethiopia under the War Reparations Agreement between the two countries, We have allotted 30 million dollars to this project, which holds such tremendous potential for agricultural and industrial development, and for which We lay the foundation stone today. The balance has been earmarked for the establishment of a textile factory. These projects were chosen as being vital to raising the standard of living of Our people.

This project which We see before us is eloquent testimony to the great importance which We ascribe to hydro-electric and irrigation projects in Our Empire. It represents, further, long years of careful scientific studies and exploratory work, such as the painstaking compilation, and examination of rainfall records for nearly a generation, geological surveys and borings, and exhaustive studies by electrical, hydraulic and construction engineers. The barrage has been so designed as to impound the maximum flow of the waters available with the least possible inconvenience to the agricultural lands which surround it, and which lie below it on the Awash River. This dam, costing 20 millions dollars, will be capable, when completed, of generating 54,000 kilowatts of electric power.

Today is a day of deep historic significance, for in laying this foundation stone, We are establishing for Our beloved people a source of wealth. This project constitutes the initial step both in the development and utilization of the water resources of Our Empire, and in the programme designed by Us for enhancing the progress and expansion of all fields of economic endeavour in Our country—agriculture, industry, transportation and communications. And We shall never cease to strive, as We have done in the case of the resources of these Awash waters, to exploit to the maximum each individual source of wealth which God Almighty in His mercy has bestowed upon Us. It is our duty to see that yet other barrages are built in order to ensure that this bounty of Providence does not go to waste and is utilized to the greater glory of His handiwork.

This project is but the first step in a similar programme We have in mind for the other water courses of Our Empire, such as the Nile with its volume and potentialities so vastly greater, as well as the Baro, the Sobat, the Akobo and the Webi Shebelli.

When We are thus tirelessly striving to ensure that the riches and blessings bestowed on Our country by God in His generosity are put to use for the welfare and progress of Our people, it becomes the duty and obligation of every citizen of Our Empire to assist Us in the tasks which We have undertaken.

We express our most profound gratitude to God Almighty for having inspired Us to envisage this project and having enabled Us to see it inaugurated.

In conclusion We would like to express Our thanks to the Italian Government and the Authorities for the spirit of collaboration in this matter and for fostering good relations between the two countries.

May 31, 1958.


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Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
Emperor Haile Sellassie First Theocracy Reign
Order of the Nyahbinghi

August 9, 2017