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On Wednesday, May 28, 1958, His Imperial

Majesty Haile Selassie I laid the foundation

stone forthe construction of the Koka Dam

hydro-electric project. To the speech of Major

Assefa Lemma, the Reparations Commissioner,

His Imperial Majesty answered as follows:

"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 program for the fullest

utilization of this God-given gift for the benefit of Our

people, thereby marking 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 of

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 programs 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 the 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 develop-

ment of transportation in securing the means for its

eventual electrification. The rapid growth of our

population and the fast pace of our economic expansion

call for the early fulfillment of these developmental

program. 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 hydro-electric power will give a

tremendous, impulsion to the development of our industrial


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 alloted 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 any 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 agri-

cultural lands which surround it, and which lie below

it on the Awash River. This dam, costing 20 million

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 program designed by Us for enhancing the

progress and expansion of all fields of economic endeavor

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 handywork.

This project is but the first step in a similar program

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 Shebeli.

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

the good relations between the two countries. "

Speeches delivered by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie Ist Emperor of Ethiopia on various occasions - page 58 - &

Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie - page 576 -       

HIM 1960 with engineers at the Koka Dam construction site