BY TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
What you need to know:
- The collective call comes as Ethiopia prepares for the fourth filling of the mega-dam reservoir on the Blue Nile and as its construction reaches 90 percent completion
At least 34 Ethiopian organisations based overseas have called on Egypt to change its “counterproductive posture” and find mutually beneficial agreements with Addis Ababa over the latter’s massive dam project known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
They urged the North African nation to cease its historic hydro-hegemonic stance and start to commit itself to cooperation on the long-standing dispute over the utilisation of the Nile River’s water resources.
The collective call comes as Ethiopia prepares for the fourth filling of the mega-dam reservoir on the Blue Nile and as its construction reaches 90 percent completion.
“We, the undersigned organisations established by Ethiopians in the Diaspora, write this message to the Egyptian people and leaders to join us in the spirit of cooperation and work towards an agreement that is fair, equitable, and mutually beneficial for all people in the Nile basin” part of the joint statement dated April 4 reads.
They called on Egyptian leaders to engage in constructive dialogue with their Ethiopian counterparts regarding the GERD and steer away from their “counterproductive posture” of calling for a “binding agreement” on the GERD filling and the subsequent operations as an imposing instrument on water sharing that Ethiopians will never accept.
“We recognise that the Nile River is a shared resource, and we support finding a mutually beneficial solution. As Ethiopians in the Diaspora, we reiterate our support for fair and equitable use of the Nile River”
Recently, as Ethiopia prepared to fill dam, Cairo had issued a fresh warning against Addis Ababa.
Cairo said that “all options are on the table” to deal with any threats to its water supply posed by the Ethiopian mega dam.
“All options are open, and all alternatives remain available, and Egypt has its capabilities, its foreign relations, and its capabilities,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned.
The Ethiopian organisations in their joined statement said such remarks will harm Egypt’s long-term interest and impede trustful cooperation with the Ethiopian people and government.
“Belligerent positions by Egyptian leaders stating all options are open’’ are contrary to the spirit of the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt”
They added:”Efforts to destabilise Ethiopia by the regime in Egypt, will indeed affect the long-term interest of the Egyptian people and make Ethiopians less trusting in cooperating on the GERD and future hydropower projects on the Nile.”
The organisations also urged the Arab League and its member states to refrain from interfering in the issue of the GERD, which is the sole concern of the three riparian countries and their shared regional organisation (the African Union), which is mediating the talks to find ‘African Solutions to African Problems’.
“The issues remaining on the table at the trilateral negotiations under the auspices of the African Union are being narrowed to a handful of critical matters on equity and Justice, on which the Arab League nations have no business nor legal right to be involved” the statement added.
Ethiopia is the main source of the Nile, contributing 86 per cent of the water to the Nile basin states while utilising less than one per cent of the Nile’s potential for hydroelectric power.
“The GERD will promote regional cooperation and integration while offering an opportunity for eleven (11) countries of the Nile Basin (Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) to work together to manage the river’s resources more effectively” the joint statement added.
Ethiopians are currently building the multi-billion-dollar dam on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile River.
A few days ago, Addis Ababa announced that 90% of GERD’s construction work had been completed.
The dam, which would be Africa’s largest, is solely financed by Ethiopians and is a crucial project for the country’s development, as it will provide clean, renewable energy and lift millions out of poverty.
About 65% of the estimated 122 million of Ethiopia’s population lacks access to any form of electricity.
The much-needed electricity is hoped to facilitate economic growth for Ethiopia and the region.
Signatory organisations among others include, the Association of Kenya-Ethiopia Friends (AKEE), Association for Peace and Unity in Ethiopia in DC (APUE-DC), Independent Voice (Ind-Voice), Council for Ethiopian Diaspora Action (CEDA) and the Ethiopian Community in Kenya.
Other are Defend Ethiopia Task Force in Europe (DETF-EU) organized in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
(Source: Nation Africa)