The Ethiopian Herald, By Desta Gebrehiwot
- Experts warn Egypt’s actions only harm itself as Ethiopia prepares to begin dam filling
Cairo’s recent move to take the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD) to the UN Security Council is part of Egypt’s long-held slippery positions to give political fig leaf to a purely technical issue and this tendencies risk-taking the tripartite negotiation off the track, warn experts.
Cairo’s tendencies of politicizing and internationalizing the dam are shuttering down any hope of possible agreement over the technical issues, which only hurts Egypt itself, according to experts.
Lately, Egypt wrote a letter to the Security Council which experts describe it as the continuation of the country’s whining position to wrongfully internationalize the technical matter of the dam which only requires inconclusive negotiations among Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.
This move further escalates the deadlock in the negotiation. Ethiopia has reiterated its resolve to peaceful negotiation, while Egypt inclines to internationalize the issue wrongly looking for a third party favor.
This week, Ethiopia announced that it has prepared a document in response to Egypt’s false claim and would also begin dam filling in July. It was also noted that the construction of the dam reaches 73, with civil works entering 87 percent.
The country also said it will not resume US-brokered talks unless other third parties step in on the consensus of the three countries.
This was revealed as the GERD technical committee presented a report on the status of construction, negotiations and way forward of the Renaissance Dam in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“Ethiopia aspires to grow and the foundation of this growth is our economic development anchored in the utilization of our natural endowments. GERD is a symbol of Ethiopia’s and Africa’s progress, we remain committed to fair and equitable usage of Nile waters for the shared economic benefits of Ethiopia and downstream riparian countries, twitted Abiy after the discussion with the technical committee.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian army said it is ready to defend the dam. Brigadier General Tesfaye Temesgen, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces ( ENDF ) Western Command Deputy Commander, says the army is making extensive efforts to ensure that the construction of GERD continues smoothly indicating that no force will stop Ethiopia from completing the GERD.
And in an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, the experts warn on possible derail of entire technical consultations unless Egypt stops slippery positions and give the technical matter a political fig leaf.
Talks on technical issues have seen frequent halts due to Egypt’s temporized position; stalemates which experts think would cast a shadow on regional hydro cooperation. Since the launching of the Dam back in 2011, Ethiopia has opted for limiting the issue into technical contexts with which various technical committees have been formed with various jurisdictions, said Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) Executive Director Fekahmed Negash in his previous interview with The Ethiopian Herald.
The issue of the Dam is a technical issue and all problems could be solved technically. “Egypt is trying to use the Dam as a cover to grab a long-standing issue of water allocation to their advantage. That is why they are seen now and again taking the issue of the dam to the political and security level.”
This is a very dangerous move that should be avoided at any level, he stressed, adding it is advisable to systematically bounce the process back to the technical level so that the required solution can be obtained, commented Fekahmed.
The engagement of the countries on matters relating to the Dam should be maintained and sustained at a technical level. When the technical level engagement runs into stalemate, the political level can come in reengage the technical level and withdraw systematically. If this is maintained, Egypt would cut hope that the opportunities they are seeking from the political level would not come up and opt for agreeing to the technical findings.
Ethiopia has come up with different alternatives with regard to the Dam filling which is purely technical. However, Egypt is bidding time by changing the level of consultation frequently, he commented. “If the thing remains unchanged from the Egyptian side, Ethiopia may have to resort to a unilateral decision and finalize the Dam, for doing so does not result in harm to the downstream countries.”
On the way forward, he said that the U.S. and World Bank may continue as observers only. Inviting other observers such as the AU and NBI can help dilute the influence of the two observers,” he underlines, adding that “this should come through negotiation.
Further, he said: “Ethiopia should prepare its own technical and legal documents for negotiation and present it to the countries for negotiation. This would enable Ethiopia to seat on the driving seat during negotiation. It will also improve Ethiopia’s negation power.”
To him, the countries could resume the negotiation with or without a third party. But the negotiation should focus on the filling and operation of the GERD only. “It should focus on the water entering the Dam and the release of water from the Dam.”
The only viable and available approach towards the Dam is technical consultations. There is nothing political about the project but Egypt is seen trying to paint the issue a political color, seconded Asst. Prof. Birhanu Blachew a geo-politician at Kotebe Metropolitan University. “Cairo ought to stop buying time,” he underscored.
Ethiopia has come up with different alternatives with regard to the Dam filling which is purely technical. However, Egypt is bidding time by changing the level of consultation frequently, he comments. “If the thing remains unchanged from the Egyptian side, Ethiopia may have to resort to a unilateral decision and finalize the Dam, for doing so does not result in harm to the downstream countries.”
The 4 billion USD DAM with a generation capacity of over 6,000 MW was launched in 2011 and is designed to address Ethiopia’s growing energy demand. The first two turbines will commence power generation by 2021.
Source The Ethiopian Herald