Nile Water Vital to Ethiopia as It Is to Egypt - Ethiopian Ambassador

By Staff Reporter

Ambassador-Meles-AlemNovember 18, 2019 ( -- Following the announcement of the construction of the Ethiopian Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), there has been speculation on the rise of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The GERD, the centerpiece of the country’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter by generating more than 6,000 megawatts, wasn’t positively welcomed by the Egyptian side, claiming the Nile as the cornerstone of Egyptian survivability.

In spite of numerous negotiations, many Issues related to the GERD remain unresolved.

The disagreement on the GERD are mostly centered on the issue of the annual flow of water to Egypt and how to manage droughts in the years to come. And two months ago the effort to reach a comprehensive, adaptive, sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement came to a deadlock. That led to another round of Ministerial Meetings hosted by the USA.

The two countries Foreign Ministers, together with their Sudanese counterpart, met with US President Donald Trump, Secretary of Treasury, and the president of the World Bank in Washington, DC, on November 6, 2019, to discuss the best mechanisms to resolve the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The meeting did not produce concrete results, however, and the ministers on both sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to reach a good deal for all sides.

Throughout this process, various experts, higher-level officials, and the media from involved countries are reflecting their views on the future scenarios of GERD. Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Meles Alem is one of them.

Ambassador Meles Alem wrote a piece of article on GERD in Kenya’s leading newspaper, The Daily Nation, in which he discussed the different issues surrounding GERD.

Below Ezega News provides highlights of the Ambassador Meles Alem's article titled Talks the best way out of the Nile waters row.

At the beginning of the article, Ambassador Meles Alem stated about the significance of the Nile to the development of all Riverine Countries.

Ambassador Meles Alem quoted GERD as a flagship project fully financed by Ethiopians people. As much as Egypt considers the Nile as a source of their survivability, the same goes for Ethiopia whose electric utility needs is increasing due to the rapid increase in its population.

‘It is its legitimate and natural right that Ethiopia commenced the construction of the dam by meeting all international standards and principles. The Nile covers 70 percent of its water resources, has 30,000-megawatt hydroelectric potential and is used for irrigation with more than 45 million people directly living in the Basin. The number of people in regions that the Nile traverses is more than 100 million. This shows that utilizing the Nile for Ethiopia is indispensable,’ The Ambassador wrote.

‘While it is Ethiopia’s right and obligation to take care of its rapidly growing population, it is doing it in a civilized way. The project implementation from the outset has been open, transparent and participatory,’ Ambassador Meles added.

‘The use of water should be seen as a basis for cooperation and regional integration, not confrontation. There is a tripartite mechanism established for consultation and discussion. There is a technical solution to the issues,’ Meles Alem further stated.

According to Meles Alem, the agreement Egypt made with Sudan in 1959 on the entire flow of the Nile without involving upstream countries is an insult to the national pride of these African countries.

‘The Nile Basin countries codified their legitimate and natural right differently from colonials or independent Egypt through negotiation. All the Nile Basin countries, including Egypt, negotiated for the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile from 1997 to 2010. Now, this agreement is the only multilateral and basin-wide negotiated agreement and the only solution to the Nile problem,’ Ambassador Meles Alem added.

In terms of cooperation, the Ambassador reflected Ethiopia’s cognizant view of this shared vision and common challenge, invited the governments of Sudan and Egypt to form an international panel of experts to review the design documents of the GERD, provide transparent information sharing and solicit understanding of the benefits and impacts, if any, of the dam on the downstream countries so that trust and confidence is built among all the parties.

Though the establishment of such a panel is not common elsewhere in the world, for Ethiopia, whose foreign policy orientation is heavily guided by the principles of cooperation and Pan-Africanism, inviting the governments of Sudan and Egypt to deliberate on a regional project comes naturally.

In his conclusion, Ambassador made clear Ethiopia’s commitment to other nations and a strong stance to protect its interest and while it awaits the recommendations of the tripartite technical committee as well as the independent technical committee, guided by mechanisms set by the governments of the three countries for the benefit of their peoples.

In spite of Ethiopia’s strong stance on the GERD talks, Egypt continues to insist on various demands, including the minimum release of 40 billion cubic meters of water annually. Egypt’s proposal According to the Ethiopian Government is a violation of the country’s sovereignty.

To read more about Ambassador Meles Alem’s article on the Daily Nation, please click this link.

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