The partial power generation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam came to fruition recently. The accomplishment marked a new turn in the Nile saga with Ethiopia setting an indelible mark that would bring riparian countries into a new era of cooperation. Abbay has been a source of distrust and conflict with countries entering regional confrontation. However, the launching of GERD brought a new window of opportunity to the Nile basin region.
Since the inception of the flagship project, Ethiopia in what could be said the astonishing departure from the past trend entered disussion with the downstream countries. Ethiopia’s proposal to utilize the shared resource through a win-win approach paves the way to turn animosity into amicability. Ethiopia has shown the world that Abbay could be a bone of cooperation, not contestation.
The history of the Nile is a recollection of wars and rivalries. Nations in the basin supported by colonial powers had been racing to solely control the common resource. This led to unilateral and unfair agreements, which Egypt usually sugarcoated as historic rights. Downstream countries particularly Egypt have been implementing policies of adversaries to other riparian countries mainly Ethiopia which contributes 86 percent of the Nile.
It was after Ethiopia launched the GERD and offered negotiation on the dam that the issues of common growth and development largely came to the spotlight.
Over the years, the negotiations among Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt led to groundbreaking progress in the history of the Nile. The signing of the Declaration of Principles in 2015 and the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2017 have been some of the notable results as Ethiopia acted bona fide.
Despite Ethiopia’s zealous and magnanimous efforts to clear confusion and create consensus in the proecess has yielded no fruit in sealing of an agreement in dam filling and drought management issues due to the misconception and deliberate actions of the downstream countries.
Having failed to engage in a peaceful settlement of the outstanding issues, some in the political and military wings of Sudan and Egypt have been trying to incite violence and conflict in Ethiopia.
The downstream countries have been trying to internationalize and politicize the GERD issue by taking the technical matter to the UNSC. Both countries have also been dragging their feet to strike a deal on technical matters of the dam. Instead, the countries have been taking hawkish foreign policy against Ethiopia to stop the construction of the dam. All these efforts came to no avail as Ethiopians stood united and committed to realizing the eagerly-awaited project.
Last Sunday, the country inaugurated the partial power generation of GERD, a millstone that puts the grand project into the final stage. This important accomplishment is also presented undisputed evidence that no harm will be caused against the downstream countries as a result of the dam. The successful power generation of the dam cleared the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the sky of Khartoum and Cairo.
Now that the dam has entered its final stage, the downstream countries should revise their policies and come on board to reach an agreement on the rest of the outstanding matters of the dam. It has increasingly become clear that no conspiracy or adversary can stop the unstoppable project. Sudan and Egypt should prepare themselves for a win-win approach not just only in the issue of GERD but also the Nile.
25 FEBRUARY 2022