Engineer Simegnew Bekele Aynalem was the first Chief Project Manager of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). From the inception of the project that he managed until his untimely death, Engineer Simegnew was the “public face” of the dam project. Engineer Simegnew was recognized throughout Ethiopia and in the international arena because of his association with the GERD. He was also known for his frequent interviews to inform the public about the GERD’s importance in Ethiopia’s rise from poverty and ultimate goal of becoming a middle-income country in the near future.
Engineer Simegnew was born on 13 September 1964 and passed away on 26 July 2018. Prior to becoming the Chief Project Manager for GERD, Engineer Simegnew managed the construction of two other major dam projects – Gilgel Gibe I and Gilgel Gibe II dams.
People who knew Engineer Simegnew described him as someone who was extremely patriotic. He had devoted his entire life to Ethiopia’s future by contributing what he could, which was his engineering skills.
Engineer Simegnew’s death sparked protests in Addis Ababa demanding justice for what they assumed was his assassination. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Meskel Square and along Menelik II Avenue in Addis Ababa to witness his funeral procession heading towards Kidest Selassie Church on 29 July 2018.
In the end, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam rose from the banks of the Blue Nile River to become the structure that the Engineer always envisioned. Engineer Simegnew would have been extremely proud to see the GERD complete the first phase of its construction and see the start of filling of the reservoir.
At this time, we at WeAspire would like to remember the tremendous contribution made by Engineer Simegnew in the construction of the GERD, and express our enormous gratitude to him and his family. May his soul Rest in Eternal Peace.