“Ethiopia deserves its fair share of the Nile to lift its people out of poverty in a fair and equitable way. Only a win-win negotiation will enable all parties achieve satisfactory results and a lasting agreement” Ethiopia and Freedom are one indivisible being incomprehensible to others of such improbable creation. In a rare summon to protect the interest of the motherland, this generation is called upon once more to speak in a single voice “Ethiopia shall not be pushed around to surrender her sovereignty”.
As Ethiopian Americans who have a great interest in US-Ethiopian relations, we happily welcomed the involvement of the US to resolve the impasse in the Nile negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. We are now gravely concerned by media reports that this process has effectively ended the consensus- building efforts of the previous rounds of negotiations, rushing to a conclusion that will hurt the interest of our country.
Ethiopia is a country with 110 million people and one of the least developed nations, with 60% of its population living without access to electricity. While the Blue Nile river and other tributaries contribute to upwards 80% of the total water flow of the Nile, a system of geopolitical injustice has barred our country from using its own water resources to generate electricity and change the lives of its poor people. Sign petition here.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydro-electric dam in Africa, is an effort to redress that centuries-old injustice. It has full national support in Ethiopia, and is expected to double current electricity generation capacity and advance poverty reduction in the country. Notably, as a hydro-project, it does not cause a permanent reduction in the water that flows downstream, and will in fact smooth the seasonal flows of the river and reduce flooding in downstream countries.
With a deep sense of understanding over the concerns of the downstream nations of Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia took a commendable initiative to successfully harness confidence by signing the Declaration of Principles (DoP) in March 2015. The cornerstones of the DoP were to foster cooperation based on understanding, common interest, good intention and the principle of international law. In addition, Ethiopia put forth the following confidence-building mechanism:
1. International Panel of Experts (IPoE) to review the design document of GERD
2. Tripartite National Committee (TNC) to verify/implement IPoE recommendations
3. National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG) to enhance the cooperation of
the three countries about the filling of the GERD’s reservoir.
Now GERD construction is near completion, financed solely by the people of Ethiopia without any outside assistance. It yields exceptional national pride above and beyond any national infrastructure endeavor. Today it is the symbol of Ethiopia’s determination to embark on a long-awaited renaissance to modernize the socio-economic foundation of the nation itself.
The sudden entrance of the United States and the World Bank in the negotiation among the three downstream nations was initially welcomed by Ethiopia in good faith. However, the US and the World Bank quickly transformed themselves from observers into chief negotiators by forcing out the mechanism established in the agreement signed in March 2015. We also believe that the process has undercut Ethiopia’s sovereign rights to use its own natural resources under international law.
We believe that the US administration and the World Bank have become parties to a neo-colonial treaty that subjects Ethiopia to undue external interference and control in its internal affairs. They should also take full responsibility for any future crisis that will be engendered by this rushed and ineffective process. Their entrance into the mediation process has already undercut decades of efforts to develop multilateral, cooperative approaches for developing the Nile through the Nile Basin Initiative. We also question the motives and independence of the US administration, especially considering its evident desire to solicit Egyptian endorsement for “deal of the century peace plan”.