CFEE SEMINAR: A view from Gibe III Hydropower Development Project

CFEE Seminar on Contemporary Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (2017-2018)

2nd Session: The Politics of ‘Developmental’ State in Ethiopia: A View from Gibe III Hydropower Development Project

by Edegilign Hailu Woldegebrael (PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, Université Paris Nanterre, France)

Friday, November 24, 2017, 10-12 AM

Venue: Berhanou Abebe library, in CFEE new office (details below)


The Politics of ‘Developmental’ State in Ethiopia: A View from Gibe III Hydropower Development Project

by Edegilign Hailu Woldegebrael

The project of state building and the quest for modernist economic development have been an evolving concern for the successive Ethiopian regimes since early 20th century.  Previous attempts, however, failed to buy the needed legitimacy and the consequent development. The current EPRDF led government, upon coming to power in 1991, propagated democratization based on ethno-federal state structures and self rule for its legitimacy construction.  On the other hand, during the second decade of its rule, the narratives on democratization and self rule have been pushed further down on the government’s agenda and were replaced by the ‘democratic developmental’ state discourses that focused on achieving highly ambitious economic growth targets as a new source of legitimacy. The ultimate objective of the ‘developmental’ state project is to elevate the country to the status of “middle income” by 2025 as stated in the Growth and Transformation Plans. The purpose of this study is, hence, to understand the notion and practices of the ‘developmental’ state in Ethiopia by drawing on a case study of the Gibe III hydropower development project from multi-scalar perspectives. The study follows a qualitative research approach and employs a less deterministic analytical framework informed by insights from state modernism, political ecology and developmental state theory to understand issues related to the politics of state developmentalism and power exercise-(especially through examination of practices of depoliticization of issues, institutions and processes, and of any local reactions to challenge/re-politicize such intervention) using the project as a case of study.  This seminar presents preliminary findings of my Ph.D. field work within the above framework.

The side and front view of Gibe III hydropower project at the dam site (Source: Field work, October 2016)

The speaker
Mr. Edegilign Hailu Woldegebrael is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography, Université Paris Nanterre, France, under the supervision of Dr. Sabine Planel. He is one of the recipients of the CFEE field scholarships 2017.
His PhD dissertation looks at the issue of developmentalism and exercise of power in contemporary Ethiopia, and specially about the Gibe III Hydropower Development Project. See more information here.

A partial view of the Ethiopian Electric Power permanent camp-Gibe III hydropower project (Source: Field work, October 2017)

Come to the CFEE
The French Centre for Ethiopian Studies is located in Addis Ababa, Arada sub city, Kebele 11 /12, house n° 1907, in the neighbourhood called JanMeda, between Menelik Hospital and Sidist Kilo.
By taxi, from Menelik Hospital in the direction of Sidist Kilo, drive some 200 meters (pass the two police stations on your left), then find on your right a house whose door, fence and razor wires are painted in bright yellow. This is the place.

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