“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 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 utilising 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 the irrigation of lands not as yet under cultivation, 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 its eventual electrification.” (…)
“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 utilisation 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 of 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 build in order to ensure that this bounty of Providence does not go to waste and is utilised 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 Atbara, the Sobot, the Akobo and the Webi Shebeli.”
H.I.M. Haile Selassie I
Laying the Foundation of the Koka Dam, 1958