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Complex Project Management Assignment on GERD Project


Task: In this Second Discussion Forum, you will be carrying out the discussion about the GERD DAM Project. You are expected to be able to better understand the case study by now

Your Tasks:
1) Express and discuss the Four main complexity types (Structural, technical, temporal and directional),
2) How do you view each complexity type in the case of GERD project
3) Do you see various level of impact of these types in the case of GERD project Discuss which type is mostly affecting the GERD project
4) Construct a Radar Diagram to express your discussion for point (3). The radar diagram may include the four types and any other supporting factors as in Lecture 3 materials,


1) The four main types of project complexities
Structural Complexity: The structural complexity, as the name suggests, is related to the components of a project structure. Here each element is a sub-activity, and this sub-activity can further be divided into sub-modules, which are the last level of execution. Each module can independently be monitored to the end, and successful completion of each module defined the success of the overall project. The guiding principle behind the module's functionality is that the input and output requirements are described in the initial stages of the project. If there are overlaps in these requirements, then the team involved in the execution of such modules need to be working in parallel. The failure analysis for the project, as well as the process, needs to be done to ensure that there is a mitigating action plan in place in case of such situations arising which could fail any module. The structural complexity is higher when it is difficult to break down the project activities into such modules. In such cases, all the individuals need to come together as a team to ensure completion of that process.

Technical Complexity:The technicality of a project is very inherent to the design concepts and assumptions that have been made to complete this design. There might be components in the design whose success entirely depends on new technologies being implemented. With the latest advancements, it is pertinent that the use of the latest technology would make the execution easier. Still, there is also the first-time risk as it has not been tested earlier, and no one has the relevant experience of handling new technology. If the design is robust, the path for the executing team becomes easy; however, in the case of ill-designed components, the executing team could go in a loop of unsuccessful trails. This necessitates that there are proper controls or checks in place to monitor that the project is not trapped in such circles. In case such situations arise, there needs to be an orthodox or tested solution in place so that the component gets completed even when there is some delay instead of not getting achieved.

Directional Complexity:Every project must have a common objective for all the teams or stakeholders involved. The completion of the project should ensure that the goals of all the stakeholders are fulfilled. Such purposes need to come out at the beginning, and any hidden agenda could disrupt the smooth execution of the project. When such hidden agendas of a stakeholder come out during the execution period, other stakeholders might not be willing to accept those agendas, and it would result in a halt of the project. The time would then be lost in negotiating new objectives, and when time is lost, elements of technical complexity might come into play, making it a mix of complications. If the project solutions team is already aware of such agendas that might come out, they need to allocate adequate time for solving such issues in the project. The political factors play a significant role in fixing these issues. The solutioning team needs to nurture a good relationship with all the stakeholders so that all the variety of opinions are expressed in the initial phases.

Temporal Complexity: This complexity relates to all the uncertainties that can be encountered during the execution of a project and result from political, civil, natural, or human-made factors. There is no specific planning that can be done to include it as a timeline or cost in a project solution. However, a contingency can be built-in depending on the geographies, political conditions, history of natural calamities to ensure that there is a cushion available to deal with in case such situations arise. The changes in legislative laws also play an essential factor. Hence, the project solutions team needs to be aware of the position of government in a region or country and their thought towards the completion of any project. Environmental factors, however, can be studied based on historical data, and permanent solutions can be integrated into the overall project plan to tackle such situations. Temporal complexities can not be directly handled in a long-term project as the variables are primarily due to time factors, but having a strategy team in place to handle such situations would help in minimizing the losses that can arise from these complexities. The future existence and benefits of a project need to be evaluated by the solutions team to ensure that all the stakeholders appreciate the relevance of the project in a long-term future.

2) Complexities in GERD project:
Structural complexity:The geographical vastness of the GERD project brings a structural complexity in the project with varied components of natural growth, human interventions involved in it. The inclusion of foreign entities in each of its parts, along with the subject of land and water acquisitions, makes it challenging to obtain a common objective for all the stakeholders. The land and water disputes have always been ongoing, unsolvable debates over the centuries. The involvement of the countries- Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan makes it even more challenging to come to a single point of agreement, ensuring harmony among all the entities. The different countries can, though, work independently and can take the component to closure in their land, but the problem is in the cases of modules that require the support of all the countries to agree.

Technical Complexity:In the case of the GERD project, there has been a significant gap in evaluating the survey results as well as the execution of a survey plan done by the Bureau of the United States. As a result, the project solution that has been derived from these survey results is not the actual requirements for the execution team. There has been a blame game being played around on the survey agency to stall the project, and this needs to be stopped as soon as possible to ensure that the project starts running again. The technology system mentioned in the solutions is as per the survey and hence outdated or not usable. The next steps that could be suggested are to re-evaluate the portions of the study, which are not correct, and re-modify the solutions for those people accordingly.

Directional Complexity:Uncertainties in the water flow of the Nile river have created directional complexity in the project as the prediction varies from an increase of 30 % to a decrease of about 80% over a year. This high range of uncertainty has made it challenging to identify and design the correct components of the structures. The countries have also come open with their problems due to this complexity, one of them being from Sudan. Sudan has claimed that they have do not enough capacity to handle the water volumes in case of peak surges in the flow, and no other country is taking responsibility to manage the excess water. If all the water in the dam is sent to Sudan, it could disrupt their economy, and they might face substantial financial loses. The moment demands that the stakeholders plan for a structure that could enable Sudan to handle the excess volumes of water.

Temporal Complexity:The political disagreements, especially from Egypt, has led to temporal complexity in the GERD project. This disagreement relates to water-sharing of the Nile River as part of the Nile Basin initiative. The other problem that Egypt government currently has is their disagreement towards the foreign financing of the project. International funding means that the benefits coming out of the project will go out to the external investors, while Egypt will get nothing. This political scenario with Egypt needs to be resolved as soon as possible as they are the primary reasons hindering the progress of the project at present.

3) The complexity with maximum impacton GERD Project
Each complexity explained above has its own set of rules guiding the complexity, which is impacting the project. Structural complexity regarding geography has already been incorporated in the solution and hence is the least affecting in this project. Technical and directional complications can be resolved with some updates to the solution but require some time to finish them. However, the most uncertain is the temporal complexity and requires a lot of effort from all the stakeholders so that all the countries can agree. There is a need for political negotiation with Brazil's government to ensure that their objectives are aligned in terms of foreign investment as well as water sharing for the Nile-basin. Temporal complexity is having the maximum impact on the GERD project.

4) Radar Diagram
The radar diagram below explains the impact of each of the complications to the total project. The scale of weight varies from 1 to 100, and the structural complexity has the least weight due to low impact. Technical and directional complexity are given equal importance, and temporal complexity has the maximum owing to its highest impact. The radar chart clearly explains the above-described complexities.


Handiso, B. (2019). The challenges and Opportunities of the Grand Renaissance Dam for sustainable Energy - Water - Food - Ecosystem services Nexus in Ethiopia. Retrieved 5 December 2019, from

Kermanshachi, S., Dao, B., Shane, J., & Anderson, S. (2016). Project Complexity Indicators and Management Strategies – A Delphi Study. Procedia Engineering, 145, 587-594. DOI: 10.1016/j.proeng.2016.04.048

Management Scenarios of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Their Impacts under Recent and Future Climates. (2017). Water, 9(10), 728. DOI: 10.3390/w9100728

Tawfik, R. (2016). Reconsidering counter-hegemonic dam projects: the case of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Water Policy, 18(5), 1033-1052. DOI: 10.2166/wp.2016.162


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