Civilisation and peace for who? Nile Basin is made up of 10 countries

25 Mar 2020

Letter to the Editor of The Independent Newspaper

Ahmed Aboudou’s piece “Blood on the Nile is what’s coming if Egypt and Ethiopia continue their war of words over water” of 10th March 2020 with its 13 mentions of “war”, was alarmist, and contained inaccuracies.

It is not the case that “war looms on the horizon”. All 10 African countries through which the Nile passes, including Egypt, know that war would be disastrous for all concerned. Furthermore, The Independent seems oblivious to the fact that the origin of these disagreement lies in the unrecognised 1959 Agreement between Egypt and Sudan, which unfairly attempted to allocate all Nile waters to two downstream states at the expense of the rest of the Basin. This absurd attempt to curtail the rights of upstream states has never been and will never be recognised by Ethiopia.

Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia agreed to talks in Washington, with the US and the World Bank as observers not, as the article states, as “external mediators”, and as such, the US was not qualified to draft an agreement – this task falls solely to the three countries concerned – Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – as was originally agreed by the three countries.

As Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Gedu Andargachew, has recently stated, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will create vibrant economic integration with our neighbours and this will end the age-old distorted thinking that considers the Nile as a source of conflict rather than cooperation.”

This GERD is exclusively dedicated to the generation of electricity and will provide electricity not just to Ethiopia but to Egypt, Sudan, and other neighbouring countries. As Foreign Minister Gedu has said, “people should know that the River is adequate enough to address our needs provided that we use it equitably.”

It is stated in the article that Egypt is “for the first time threatened by thirst.” But the threat of thirst in Ethiopia has been a recurring tragedy. The Nile is a life-or-death matter for the many Ethiopians living without access to electricity or clean water.

The “fair share” that Egypt is demanding is everything but fair to the nine other countries in the Nile River Basin that Egypt has side-lined in its hunger for water.

Ethiopia contributes about 86% of the water flow to the Nile River Basin and reserves the right to reasonably utilize these water resources in a fair and equitable manner to address the needs of current and future generations. It remains committed to addressing any outstanding issues together through constructive dialogue with Sudan and Egypt to improve and refine a future agreement on the guidelines and rules for the first filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Ethiopia has taken all the necessary precautions to avoid significant harm, if any, that the dam could bring to downstream countries, and has conducted detailed and multifaceted studies which have embraced international dam standards and safety. Sudan welcomes the GERD; Egypt should do likewise.

Yours,

Fesseha Shawel Gebre

Ambassador

The Independent published the Ambassador’s letter on Tuesday 17th March 2020 under the headline “Ethiopian water“.

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