NETWORK of ETHIOPIAN SCHOLARS (www.nesglobal.org)
Title: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD): A Call for Successful Mediation to Create Full Agreement by All Involved on 28-29 January, 2020 in Washington D.C
By Mammo Muchie
(DST/NRF Research Professor on Innovation Studies, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa)
“The World Fears time
Time Fears History
History fears Ethiopia”
“Ethiopia by her suffering throughout her long history of independence has given spiritual (not material) strength and wealth to the world” (Mammo Muchie)
Ethiopia has not received the much needed and full support to complete the GERD on time until now. The GERD should have been completed three years ago in 2017. It is remarkable because of the lack of support mainly from the Government of Egypt and its close allies; the completion of GERD unfortunately has been far too much delayed. The Government of Egypt should refrain from continuing to delay the GERD and come fully on board knowing truly that the GERD is not just only for Ethiopia; it is a real treasure and asset for all in the River Nile region, Africa and the rest of the world.
Ethiopia and Sudan will surely welcome Egypt and they know GERD is beneficial to all and not just to Ethiopia, despite the fact Ethiopia is the principal driver of the GERD initiative. What benefits Ethiopia also benefits Egypt and conversely what benefits Egypt can benefit Ethiopia too. The win-win and mutually beneficial high way should prevail for all in the region rather than overloading it with the unnecessary selfish political consumption and traffic entirely free from any external interference. The recognition and acknowledgment by all in the region is much needed, that Ethiopia has the right to compensation to the Nile River water and the soil that cascades to Sudan and Egypt. The proper handling to stop the opposition to GERD in order to bring justice where all can gain can come when the Ethiopia that has been losing for years and years is compensated for both the water and soil. Let all share and not take advantage and use unnecessary political moves to promote ethnic fracturing to divide Ethiopia. It is worrisome to read currently the media coverages that in 2020 the ethnic division that is also promoted with external actors in Ethiopia has been reported to become the biggest threat to the country.
Egypt and Ethiopia can draw lessons from Lesotho and South Africa. It is truly an exemplary model to witness the mutual beneficial relation between Lesotho and South Africa. South Africa annually pays to Lesotho for the river water that flows from Lesotho to South Africa. Egypt should learn from South Africa and must agree to compensate Ethiopia for both the Nile River water and the cascading soil. This offer should have come from Egypt a long time ago. It is not late. Egypt needs to make a mind-set and paradigm shift to go from opposition and conflict by choosing to become a true and regular partner in supporting the construction of GERD without fail.
The South African President is going to become the chair of the Africa Union in February 2020. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia has asked the president of South Africa in his role as chair of the Africa Union to assist in making sure there is collaboration to complete the GERD between Egypt and Ethiopia and both with Sudan. Ethiopia should consider its right of obtaining due compensation for its investment in the GERD project which is of benefit not only to Ethiopia but also to the Sudan and Egypt.
Although international conventions regarding riparian water rights accord benefits for all concerned adjacent countries, the specific applications depend on the extent to which each country exerts rights. Unfortunately, current and recent regimes in Ethiopia have not exerted the required influence to make sure Ethiopia also benefits. It is time that such an action is taken now with full agreement so the GERD can be completed mainly with full support from all Governments in the Nile River region. The Africa Union should facilitate and make sure the GERD construction is fully achieved by all in the region by avoiding external divisive influences.
There is now a mediation-taking place in Washington DC managed by the US Government Treasury involving Ethiopia with Egypt, Sudan, the U.S. Government and the World Bank to produce an agreement with a declaration to come out a Communique by 28-29 January 2020 signed by all the partners.
How it would have been truly, right if only the Nile River Regions could have taken time and solve any issues. If the Nile River regions wish to involve others, it is strongly recommended that they request the Africa Union to join them and resolve any issues by taking all the time they need.
Let us hope that the mediation in Washington DC will recommend ways for the Nile River region countries to address the GERD construction time and learn to agree. The agreement must be fair, mutually beneficial, tangible, measurable, actionable and sustainable where all join to make sure the GERD can be completed fully as soon as possible.
We expect all those who will produce the communique in a week’s time to take the following recommendations that are now being shared to all involved to draft the communique in order to open the opportunity for GERD to be fast-tracked and completed very soon free from all the conflicting politics.
II: Recommendation for a Successful Mediation on GERD
- GERD should not have been subjected to conflict. That was truly a big mistake. Those who made the mistake should acknowledge and come back to support the earliest possible completion of the GERD. There should have been engagement of all in the Nile region how best to generate hydroelectricity without any loss of water. In fact, there should have been applied research to make sure that more hydroelectric power can be generated with the increase in water volume as the region is bestowed with winter and spring seasons when the Nile River Region is awash with flood. The applied GERD project based action research should have also been used how to increase the water level even at the summer and drier time when there is no wet and flood. The entire weather pattern and climate can be examined systematically to make sure the water level is never reduced. There can be also solar panels that can be used to store the heat from the sun during hot seasons to retain the green zone on the ground and retain water. We have created the African solar energy network to harness the heat and light from the sun to create electricity and continue to use the land to produce as many fruits and crops as possible. (ansole.org).
- There are many possibilities and opportunities that the region as a whole can gain from GERD. What is lacking is focus to find real solutions to any problem. The much-needed applicable research is not often done. This is what should have been undertaken by joining the research team and not go alone by each side and come out with information to create problems rather than solutions. The power of knowledge should have been used to empower all the countries together rather than using the power of unnecessary and divisive politics, prejudice and selfish interest to divide and fight rather than build the GERD and unite.
- The filling of the dam can be accomplished with water gain by discovering the right and agreed high way to avoid water loss. What all of you must put in the Communique is that this opportunity for water gain rather than water loss is fully available. It is a matter of how on the journey all can agree to share and work to achieve high quality output on both the hydroelectricity and water level sides. In Japan, they can now recycle toilet water. There is no reason why we cannot apply engineering knowledge to make sure that the water level can continue to increase rather than play unnecessary politics by claiming building the dam brings risk rather than opportunity.
- The weather condition and climate can be thoroughly examined with now space satellites with remote sensing communications and a variety of ground and water level experiments that are waiting to be applied, used and assist to make sure the water is not only retained but also ways can be discovered to recycle the water and increase the level by regulating the flow annually.
- Consideration should be given to methodologies of saving the water being lost due to evaporation, to deal with the water flow value chain from Ethiopia to Egypt and the optimal waste management to address systematically the environmental challenges all the three countries face.
- The principle of mutual benefit must guide the relationship of all the countries that are now meeting to produce the final Communique to move forward with peace and security for all. It is critical to recognize no conflict is necessary to prevent the GERD to reach the final stage of completion.
- All the countries in the region such as Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan that share the waters of the Nile River along with the countries that are directly and indirectly involved (e.g. the USA, Israel and some of the countries in the Middle East) have to agree even when they disagree to re-agree to create a win-win outcome in every sphere related to the GERD. They all must clearly articulate this commitment in the coming communique.
- There is no justification in using any threats of violence, war and interference to fast track the full completion of the GERD by not losing more time anymore now.
- The interference in the internal politics to polarize by inflicting ethnic and religious divisions to distract Ethiopia from completing the GERD is a violation of human rights and international law. Governments that spearhead such interventions must stop and apologize for all the damage that Ethiopia has been continuing to suffer. The Communique should explicitly articulate the risk that Ethiopia has suffered and make it explicit that there will be no interference to promote tribal conflict in Ethiopia to distract Ethiopia from finalizing the completion of the GERD.
III: GERD: Resource to Generate Abundance of Electricity and Water
- GERD will not reduce the water level. In fact, the engineering design and model can be framed in such a way that GERD’s hydroelectricity can come with the increase rather than the decrease of the water level in the Nile River region as a whole.
- The communique should explicitly recommend for all the Governments of the Nile region to apply science, technology, engineering and innovation to understand the space, the land and the water in the Nile River region to generate hydroelectric power by increasing the water level rather than reducing it. If all the politicians from all the countries involved can agree to apply scientific knowledge rather than entering into conflict, there will be absolutely no reason to prevent the GERD from being completed as soon as possible.
- GERD can in fact make it possible for Egypt to get even more water than what it is getting now. What is needed is to create the dam without any sabotage to facilitate both the provision of water and electricity. The engineering to store the water is not difficult. What is very damaging is the unnecessary politics that the politicians and media play. The politicians, the extremists and media preferred to promote ethnic political division openly to hurt and divide Ethiopia rather than learning to agree on how best both electricity and water can be shared. What cost is involved and how best to agree to share the needed cost? South Africa pays annually to Lesotho for the water that flows to them. The Nile River water is the source of life for Egypt that flows from Ethiopia. Egypt too like South Africa does should have paid. In the Communique on 28-29, 2020, Egypt should agree to contribute and agree to pay even for all the years it has shared the water of the Nile River.
- Egypt should also commit to contribute for building GERD rather than opposing and delaying it any more. Egypt should learn from China that contributed to help build the renaissance dam on time to make all in the region benefit from the provision of preserved water with the dam. It is much better to create and use the dam and reservoir than relying on downstream water levels that flow at different rates depending on the cycle of dry and wet season.
- The communique should also advise all the regional countries never to fail to find restorative and rehabilitative justice to resolve any differences. They must all apply the rich spiritual heritage that promotes African values, traditions and associational culture to do the needed, necessary and honestly done mediation and resolve any problem by addressing systematically all the issues to move forward together by all undertaking a shared future.
- The Communique should clearly articulate a road map of how all the Nile River Regional states can deal with any difference with one another from here on. It is better they do it themselves than involving all other external actors.
- If the outsiders are to get involved, be good if the AU can be recommended to handle it. It will be good to find African solutions to African problems.
- We appreciate all who can contribute to make sure all the regional states are engaged to solve problems rather than create problems. Let all in the Nile region create unity, rather than division, create peace rather than war, undertake sustainable and enduring engagement to make the people to be innovative, inventive, and integrative to make sustainable and transformative development future for all by making the health, safety and prosperity of all the people the priority of priorities.
- The inspiring part of the GERD is how the payment for the construction has been made. There is no aid requested. It is the people that contribute. Those from outside also do not give loans, they contribute like China did.
- Payment for the GERD construction should continue without bringing loan, aid, and debt. Encouragements are needed to make all the people to contribute and make them all proud together they have made history by the completed achievement of the GERD construction.
- We ask Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to become three as one and one as three united firmly, anchored to promote the well-being of the people and the safety of the water, soil and nature to make the GERD construction done now without taking any more time with full agreement. All those from Africa and the rest of the world are welcome to contribute but not to lend loans and create debt. GERD must be purely a people’s project done by the people and for all the people.
IV: Concluding Remarks
We are all eagerly looking forward that the expected Communique will recommend strongly for GERD to be delayed never and to be implemented soonest ever. The agreement must be based on clear principle and value to make sure mutual benefit comes first and guides the shared route to achieve the construction of the GERD. Any conflict must be resolved with the principle, culture, grace and value of reconciliation and virtue. The GERD is a real asset not just for Ethiopia but also for all. Let peace prevail and GERD be achieved and done, now, now and now.
Prof. Mammo Muchie, DPhil
DST/NRF SARChI Research Professor on Science, Technology, Innovation and Development: Tshwane University of Technology, Adjunct Professor in BDU & Harmaya, Ethiopia, and Riara University in Kenya, and Associate Faculty Professor, Sussex University, U.K. (www.sarchi.org)
NB: Sincere appreciation to all of you who sent me your comments and feedback.