GERD: An icebreaker project in Nile cooperation

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Since the inception of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Ethiopians have been contributing their share to the construction of the flagship project.

The resolute and practical engagement of the entire Ethiopian people at home and abroad coupled with the government’s resolve has been imperative to the progress of the colossal dam.

The project which is expected to connect millions of Ethiopians to the power grid could also serve as a means of cooperation for the region. To create transparency and reach a winwin approach, Ethiopia has been holding negotiations with Sudan and Egypt. The negotiation has indeed produced some headway over the last decade like the signing of the Declaration of Principles.

With the partial power generation coming to fruition, marking a new turn in the Nile sage, GERD has indeed opened a new window of opportunity to the Nile basin region. Ethiopia’s proposal to utilize the shared resource through a win-win approach paves a way to turn animosity into amicability.

Ethiopia has shown the world that Abay could be a bone of cooperation, not contestation. The commencement of the partial generation of GERD will bring an enabling environment for the upcoming talks through curtailing the fear of Egypt and Sudan with reference to the construction of the mega-dam, said GERD negotiator and Political Science and International Relations Prof. Yakob Arsano.

Having passed through many twists and turns on several occasions, the construction of the dam has reached 85 percent. The scholar classified the GERD’s challenges into financial and geopolitical ones.

The project encountered geopolitical challenges arising from Egypt to hinder the construction of the dam,” Yakob noted, adding that the US and many Arab countries have been attempting to hold the construction through developing negative attitudes towards it.

Another well-acclaimed GERD negotiator Engineer Gedion Asfaw said for his part that, the achievement first stage generation of the dam will pave the way for a fruitful tripartite negotiation in the future.

The negotiation has been carried out based on international principles and mutual benefits of the concerned countries and it needs to be continued in a similar approach for the benefit of the parties and successful accomplishment of the project.

Noting the performance of the project is helpful diplomatically, politically, and economically for the government of Ethiopia and its people, Gedion recommended the negotiation be taking place in giving emphasis to regional stability and integration. The rest of the turbines will commence generating power turn by turn and the people and government of Ethiopia should consolidate efforts to finalize the project which stands at 85 percent completion.

Lauding the sense of belongingness, the people of Ethiopia have demonstrated GERD and support the building of the dam financially, professionally and in other ways, the academician called on the public to finance other projects that would transform the economy and livelihoods.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is not an irrigation dam. It’s an electric power dam, Zemedeneh Nigatu told CNBC Africa. “Let me repeat, it is not an irrigation dam”, the water is still flowing, said a renewed Economist and Global Chairman of Fairfax Africa. Zemedeneh emphasized that, water flows into the turbines and comes out continuing to flow to Sudan and Egypt.

Therefore, he vowed that the two countries should not be concerned about it. As to him, this momentous history is not only a victory for Ethiopia, rather, for East Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Great Africa as a whole, adding that it is a massive project which can benefit all.

“Therefore it has still a remarkable milestone, mentioning the dam is a key to its economic development, he accentuated that after its full operation of 5,100MW, will actually double the install capacity of Ethiopia which is now 4,900 MW”. According to him, Africa should use this dam as a regional and integrated economic powerhouse.

Aside from providing electricity to 60 percent of Ethiopia’s population, the dam will become the biggest hydropower plant in Africa. So, on multiple fronts it is a big achievement for Ethiopia, he said. Noting that 83 percent of the construction is completed now, the project will cost about Five billion USD when completed, it was learned. Likewise, speaking to the TRT World, Constitution Building and Governance Advisor at the International Institute for Democracy Adem Kessie stated that, sometimes Sudan and Egypt have raised genuine concerns even though they are mostly struggling to maintain the status quo. “It is important that, the African Union-led talks could lead the negotiation countries to a modality for genuine cooperation. I think the GERD not only transformed the agelong and legend-based relations in the River Nile but also brought a new dynamism of economic partnerships among the three countries.” The expert further highlighted that the successive Ethiopian governments have an unwavering commitment to utilizing the River Nile for the benefit of their people.

The dam was first dreamed up by Emperor Haile Selassie I and that dream was kept alive by Mengistu Hailemariam then translated into a reality by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. “Both Hailemariam Desalegn and Abiy Ahmed kept the dream, showcasing the GERD is a critical project, not just because of its economic potentials, but also being a source of national pride and self-reliance.” The Nile connected several countries as the amplitude cord because of geography, history, and also because of spirituality, and religion and it has been a source of mistrust and outright animosity.

As to him, the milestone in the building of the GERD can actually produce a harbinger of transformation of the past wrong relationship which is largely attributed to the legend that Egypt and partially Sudan rely on to claim the entire ownership of Nile waters.

The first time electricity generation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been carried out in accordance with international treaties and agreements the three negotiating countries Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have been reached upon, informed sources disclosed.

International Water Resource Advisor Fekiahmed Negash said the power generation clearly exposed the false accusation of the downstream countries as the dam significantly disrupts the flow of the water.

According to the Declaration of Principles (DoP), Sudan doesn’t state Ethiopia has no right to generate power from the dam, and the recent false accusations by the downstream countries, is a known tactic.

Noting Ethiopia goes a long distance for a win-win approach with genuine, scientific, and logical evidence, the expert highlighted that the downstream countries keep opposing the project, knowing the fact that the dam will not harm them.

The power generation and filling of the dam will not obstruct the natural flow of the water; the project is all about development and lightening up millions of homes that are living without access to electricity in the 21st century.

Approached by the Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International trans-boundary Affairs Advisor Ambassador Ibrahim Idris noted that, power generation is a huge achievement for Ethiopia. “Sudan and Egypt portray the dam as an existential threat to them which is completely wrong and far from the fact.” The negotiation which was held for the past ten years on how to operate and fill the dam is challenging due to the sneaky move of the downstream countries.

Sudan and Egypt’s intention is by any means prolonging the operation of the GERD if possible halting the construction. It is all about halting Ethiopia’s development process.

All the accusations were to secure their supremacy over the resources referring to the colonial treaty signed between the two countries which excluded Ethiopia, the diplomat elaborated. “Ethiopia did all the best passing through diplomatic challenges coming from the downstream countries and also from international actors that have been exerted on it.

During each meeting and negotiation, they come up with new ideas mainly to convince Ethiopia not to proceed with the construction and others.” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) clarified that, the dam will not obstruct the natural flow of the water and the commencement of the power generation doesn’t impose any harm on the downstream countries.

“This is good news for our continent and the downstream countries with whom we aspire to work together.” However, both Sudan and Egypt keep on opposing the power generation and falsely accusing Ethiopia of the ‘unilateral’ measure thereby violating the Declaration DoP that the three countries inked in 2015.


The Ethiopian   1 March   2022

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