The Damming of the Life giving waters of Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. This process is menacing the existence of the inhabitants of the region by drying the sources and lakes like Turkana, Rivers- Omo, Tekesze,Nile, Shebele, Awash...menacing countries like Egypt. The main reason advertised for damming is for production of Electricity and exporting energy. The underling reason is to the irrigation for the great land grabbing for cash crop exportation for finical speculators.
I am a strong believer that peace and prosperity can be brought about through economic cooperation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Israel on July 10. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry recently paid an official visit to Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Of the issues discussed between the two, the most important was that Egypt might consider appointing Netanyahu as its mediator to resolve its water dispute with Ethiopia. A point overlooked by local media, which focused on what they claimed was the betrayal of the Palestinians the meeting represented.
Also overlooked was the fact that Israel will manage the electricity output from the Renaissance Dam and is in general becoming a strong presence on the continent.
Water is a matter of national security for all nations, and particularly so for Egypt.
According to the 1959 agreement on the distribution of the Nile River water, Egypt’s share is 55.5 billion cu.m. What was enough in 1959, however, is not enough in 2016.
While Egypt has ambitious economic plans, the country’s pressing population increase is not making matters easier for the Egyptian government. The end justifies the means and so Egypt appointed Netanyahu to resolve water issues with Ethiopia as part of a two-phase project. In the first phase, a pipeline is to be constructed from Tana Lake in Ethiopia which will pass through Eretria (where Dahlak and Fatma islands host the Israeli naval forces that are strategically overseeing Bab al-Mandab), then through Sudan and finally Egypt. Afterwards, in phase two, the pipeline can be extended to take Nile River water to Israel.
The mutual benefits are obvious: for Egypt a higher share of cleaner Nile water for irrigation, industrial and commercial usage. We can build pipelines or construct canals to reach the western desert regions depending on site surveys and cost-benefit analyses. Israeli innovations and technology in agriculture will be an added assist.
For Israel, the plan will guarantee a continuous flow of Nile water to meet its current and future needs. It will be then be in a position to sell water to both Jordan and Palestinians in return of securing peace for its people. Israeli companies will profit from the rapidly growing Egyptian market – with approximately 2.6 million children added each year.
Once Israeli technology is adapted in Egypt, together the two countries will gain entrance to African markets with signed bilateral trade agreements such as COMESA and others.
The Alexandria to Cape Town highway and new tunnels under the Suez Canal – projects under construction – will facilitate the movement of products from Egypt and Israel.
Ethiopia will generate cash by selling the water. This cash can be utilized to meet its industrial and agricultural needs.
I am a strong believer that peace and prosperity can be brought about through economic cooperation. This vision, once accepted by the three leaders, will require building an advocacy team with members from each country which has strategic vision to carry out an action plan. The Egyptian public is beginning to feel the impact of water shortages, in agriculture and in the home. It is appropriate to take action now while the political and economic circumstances permit.
The author is a competitive intelligence consultant.
Ethiopian and Sudanese delegates had held a meeting in Addis Ababa, on 28 October, 2016 intended to strengthen the bilateral elation of the two countries, assess ways to further enhance their relation and enhance opportunities used to create regional integration through the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Water and irrigation Ministry‘s Consultant, Tefera Beyene said that Ethiopia and Sudan has over 20 years of relation and the current meeting has eyed at excelling their relation and exploring ways to jointly benefit from the GERD. He confirmed that Sudan has long understood the benefit of the GERD and it has been supporting the project since its commencement.
He said the construction is being undertaken in state of the art technology (imagine how Aswan has survived until to date, which is constructed with obsolete technology). Unlike Egypt, Sudan has no doubt about the quality of construction and security of the Dam.
However, some individuals said that the current meeting of the two countries is to lobby against Egypt and make Sudan enhance the construction of the GERD. But, Teffera has rubbished this allegation and confirmed that the current meeting of the two countries is not different by all accounts from other meetings conducted by the two countries in the previous. The two countries have been continuously meeting on the issues of investment and border security. Hence, the bi-lateral meeting of Ethiopia and Sudan cannot sever the trilateral relation of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
He stressed that Sudan is an independent and sovereign country with lots of water technologists and experts and they know what to do. Sudan has its own stand and it decides up on diplomatic matters based on its interest.Therefore, Ethiopia has no time to lose lobbying about the GERD. Ethiopia believes that the GERD has been attracting the interest of Sudan by its own as it helps curb flash floods and devastative effect of Blue Nile and provide cheap electricity to the people of Sudan( Sudan has understood the benefit of the GERD far better than Egypt).
Currently, the ties of the two countries have thrived to the level of investment, economic cooperation and people to people relation and cultural exchange. Furthermore, the GERD has enabled the two countries to continuously discuss about the opportunities of the Project and enhance its benefits to the peoples of the two countries
Similarly, GERD Project General Manager, Eng. Simegnew Bekele had said that Ethiopian Blue Nile has been flowing in vain out of Ethiopia since time immemorial. Ethiopia did not manage to exploit Nile earlier because of internal and external factors; poverty, civil war and influence of external forces that do not approve of the development of Ethiopia.
However, he said, currently, Ethiopia has gained tremendous experience that allows it to play a leading role in building dams. Ethiopia knows how to build and run dams and reservoirs based on feasible studies and designs. He assured that GERD is a project being built by professional Ethiopians, with responsibility that guarantees benefit for everyone.
He said construction of the Project is going on at a faster pace. Parallel to intense construction endeavor, according to him, negotiations with downstream countries (Egypt, Sudan)will continue to help them understand the firm stand of Ethiopia to mutual benefit, peaceful co-existence and the principle of insignificant impact to utilize Nile.
Simegnew, outlining the positive aspects of the Dam for Egypt and Sudan, said all dimensions related to safety of the Dam, quality of construction, operation and maintenance have been designed and put into consideration in a way that makes it reliable. The Project will be of enormous benefit to downstream countries as much as it is to the Ethiopian people as Ethiopia has vowed to make use of its water resources to the benefit of neighboring countries.
According to him, one of the key advantages of the Dam is to boost perpetual and voluminous flow of water. Hence, It can avoid dangers of flood and water losses caused by natural flow and evaporation, as well as alluvium accumulation problems. It will also make navigation in the Nile smoother and support peace and regional stability.
Construction of the Dam is well in progress. Currently over 50 percent of the construction has been finalized. Over 11,000 workmen are toiling day and night under the sweltering heat of Guba hills, in Benishangul Gumuz State, to complete the Project as per schedule. At present, left and right sides of the Dam's body are finalized. Inside the reservoir, 35,000 hectares (almost 135 square miles) have been prepared and qualified for use. Construction work on the saddle dam is taking place about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the main Dam site.
All Ethiopians are eager to see completion of the Project. They are discussing about the Dam enthusiastically. All people in Addis Ababa suburbs and areas surrounding the Dam site near the border with Sudan are expressing pride that Ethiopia can take on such a massive a project by its own( and it is embarrassing Brentwood financial institutions that are used to undertake horse-trading activities against the interest of Ethiopia; denying loan to finance electricity projects in support of Egypt’s shrewd machination to impede hydro-electric projects proposed to be constructed on the various tributaries of Blue Nile, even though Egypt vehemently rejected this evidence-based claim as untrue and fabricated).
The GERD and the various electricity projects (like Gilgel Gibe) are becoming successful. Ethiopia has ardently continued working on and register successful results (as part of its endeavor to fight poverty).Even, it aspires to export energy generated by the hydroelectric project, not only to adjoining African countries, but also to Europe and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) markets, after effectively materializing its hydro electric projects.
Not only the GERD but also some projects like the ones being constructed on Gilgel Gibe are becoming reality; testifying that Ethiopia can realize its dream in the near future, although this is definitely giant task that needs to develop and harness many of its hydroelectric potentials (but it makes envious Egypt more disgruntled and act in hysteria to control all of the water supply from the Blue Nile).
FDRE President, MulatuTeshome, while inaugurating this year’s activities of the government, said that Egypt has attempted to use mercenaries, flare proxy war and surreptitiously support the diabolic act of anti-Ethiopian elements and extremist Diaspora who are trying to dismantle the constitutional order of the country. He said the support of Egypt is very much deplorable and well documented. Even though rapprochement of the two countries has been bolstered by diplomatic aplomb of Ethiopia, it is a secret in public that Egypt has not left any stone unturned to destabilize Ethiopia since long(thank God, Ethiopia is growing stronger with time and managed to successfully fend off evil attempts of Egypt and other anti-Ethiopian forces).
Following his speech, Egyptian media and foreign ministry have been spending most of their time bogged down in covering up evil acts of their country to wreck havoc in Ethiopia and halt the construction of GERD. The state media Al-Ahram and other complacent news outlets issued a statement that Ethiopia and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs had allegedly tarnished Egypt’s reputation. Both institutions of Egypt had blatantly denied well-founded claim of Ethiopia and stated that Egypt did not assist Ethiopian opposition groups nor it stealthily conspired to inflict damage on Ethiopia.
Remorseless Egypt is in untenable position. Institute for Security Studies (ISS): Nov, 2008 stated that, unable to conquer the source of the Blue Nile, Egypt’s policy was to systematically prevent Nile riparian countries from utilizing Nile waters. An important element in this policy has been the promotion of political instability in the region and the Horn of Africa. To this end, Egypt has been laboring for many decades to fan flames and aggravate conflicts. Because, Egypt gripped with jingoism believes that such political instability in the region serves its interests. It assumes that when Ethiopia is wrecked by war, it cannot focus its efforts on development.
Thus, ISS further stated, for Egypt, when Ethiopia is weak and internally divided, Egypt can rest. But when Ethiopia is prosperous and self confident, playing a leading role in the region, Egypt is worried. Earlier, Egypt has been exploiting Somalia that aggressively waged war to annex a significant portion of south-eastern Ethiopia as its territory. It was designed to distract the attention of the government of Ethiopia on protecting the territorial integrity of the country. As an evidence, Egypt cannot deny its planes carrying armaments to Somalia were coerced to land at Nairobi air port by dutiful Kenyan air force in May, 1978 (imagine the ferocious wars waged between Ethiopia and Somalia and shrewd Egypt fanning the flames surreptitiously!!)
As of recent, there has been strong rhetoric from senior Egyptian politicians who have crossed the Rubicon of lowest diplomatic civility. They dare to instigate indirect attack using mercenaries on the people and government of Ethiopia that openly stretched out amicable hands and called upon Egyptian brothers to jointly study potential impacts of the Dam (contrary to Egypt that stubbornly milks colonial water treaties in which Ethiopia was not signatory; unlike Egypt that did not invite and consult Ethiopia when Aswan was built; unlike Egypt that has been conspiring against the interest of Ethiopia).
After having tried to mess the peace and stability of Ethiopia and obstruct the construction of the GERD, the statements being released by the politicians of Egypt are bewildering to the international community and Ethiopia that has documented evidence capable of exposing their ill-advised attempt. Ethiopians understand that one unswerving tradition of Egyptian media and the government is denial, prefabrication and prevarication to bluff their way out when faced with indubitable facts of Nile and misinterpreting every quote until it fits their purpose.
In the contrary, hydrologists, water policy makers and analysts of the issue of Nile are of the opinion that the government of Egypt should not give pie in the sky promises to the greater public regarding sustaining “historical rights”. It should openly publicize to the people of Egypt that the era of colonial agreements have given way to the era of equitable sharing and Nile water utilization based on insignificant impact(Egypt’s refusal to nullify unfounded treaties of colonizers is deep rooted since the incumbency of Nasser and Anwar Sadat. Egyptian foreign ministry tries to maneuver this defunct intransigence to extract some kind of entrapment implying Ethiopia’s recognition of Egypt’s “historical right” over Nile).
Colonial water treaties that favor Egypt are not binding and are nullified by non-signatory Nile riparian states (contracts are not binding if they are not based on consensus and signed by member states).Particularly,Ethiopia supports a policy of equitable utilization and insignificant impact related to Nile water utilization. Gone and irremediably abrogated are colonial Nile water treaties!
In addition, accepting and recognizing “historical rights” makes any cooperation worthless since it practically means all Nile water belongs to Egypt and none for the rest of Nile Basin countries. Ethiopia, which is the source close to 90% of the Nile waters, does not accept Egypt’s claim for ‘’historical rights and prior appropriation’’ which are anchored in colonial treaties. Ethiopia is consistently promoting the concept of equitable entitlement as the best way to settle Nile water allocation problems (Nile is the common wealth of all riparian states and any single country cannot selfishly claim it as its own sole property).
Ethiopia has no obligation to accept Egypt’s time-clawed and age-ravaged policy of historical right and claim of unfair water share over Nile. Ethiopia accepts justifiable utilization of Nile water and the modus operandi of insignificant impact proclaimed by international water treaties designed to manage trans-boundary Rivers.
Nation long understands the entrenched vice and malice of Egyptian government to destroy the development endeavor of Ethiopia. The current attempt to destabilize Ethiopia is the extension of deep-rooted evil policy formulated to hinder Ethiopia from tapping its hydropower potential; the highest form of ill-will toward Ethiopia’s long suffering people; it can also be recognized as desire to shackle Ethiopians with grinding poverty.
Egyptian politicians could not understand or do not want to understand the fact that constructing giant dam over Nile is the aspiration of many successive generations. And now the real time has come to materialize that dream. Undertaking development activities on Nile and emancipating the country from the grip of abominable poverty is the true quest of people and no power could obstruct this action as real time has come. Come hill (call it Guba hill) or high water, the project cannot be halted for a moment and it is going on in an encouraging manner. Ethiopian people are moving heaven and earth (moving with the times, too) and no doubt the GERD would be finalized soon.
Egypt must understand the fact that the current unbalanced distribution of Nile water and the consequent poverty and starvation of Nile up stream countries cannot be ignored any longer. In this regard, Ethiopia has been adamantly expressing its stand on various diplomatic forums about the GERD (+ Nile Basin Initiative) and its determination to equitable use of water, mutual benefit and regional integration through electrification and other development activities.
GERD is a popular project and it will continue defying all obstacles: Egypt’s jingoism, vice and malice and subversive acts of extremist Diaspora. As flagship project, its construction is being financed by the contribution of people. Accordingly, citizens are committed to guard the project and stand sentinel to its security. Egypt must come out of its ostrich mentality and stop jumping at every incident to embroil Ethiopia in endless conflict and prevent it from developing its water resources.