ADDIS ABABA - Reports by some Egyptian media about the process of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) are full of misinterpretations of Principle V of the Declaration of Principles (DoP), says Chairperson of the Tripartite National Committee (TNC) of Ethiopia.The DoP was signed by the leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on March 2015.
Approached by The Ethiopian Herald to reflect views on the confusion regarding the water filling process of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Chairperson Engineer Gedion Asfaw said that various media outlets of Egypt attempt to convince the international community by misinterpreting principle V of the DoP, particularly the Principle to cooperate on the first filling and operation of the Dam and accuses Ethiopia of contravening the Principle.
Gedion further noted that the principle is interpreted by Egypt as the filling of the GERD will not start until the outcomes of the two International Panel of Experts (IPoE) recommended studies are agreed upon while Ethiopia on the other hand interprets the principle as the filling of the dam would be done in parallel with its construction.
"The DoP clearly states that the filling of GERD will be done in parallel with the construction of the dam. Egypt ignores the fact that this principle is based on the spirit of cooperation and equitable utilization of the Nile and attempts to manipulate the principle to prohibit Ethiopia from filling and operating the GERD by making the filling of the dam conditional on the finalization of the joint study," he reiterated.
The GERD filling plan considers the concerns of the three countries and is therefore planned to be done in a phased and responsible manner without causing significant harm to the equitable and reasonable use of the Nile waters by the two downstream countries, the chair furthered.
As per him, it is important to note that the consultant has made significant progress in the conduct of the study despite the stalemate in the ongoing discussions among the TNC. "Therefore, it will be, as to me, more important to build on the progress thereby accelerate the completion of the joint studies. The differences among the three countries on the conduct of the joint studies are purely technical and can be resolved if the TNCs of the three countries continue their consultations in good faith," he recommended.
The chair, on the other hand, stated that the recent proposal of Egypt to engage a third party in the TNC process in order to address the stalemate is appreciated and Ethiopia and Sudan would respond to that. The engineer, moreover accentuated that the level and timing of a third party involvement in the TNC process should be as per the agreement between the TNCs of the three countries without preempting the responses of Ethiopia and Sudan.
"Egypt's repeated claim on its historical right, current water use and monopoly over the Nile waters is contradictory to and violation of the DoP signed by the leaders of the three countries. Ethiopia is one of the most economically water scarce countries, at a much lower level than Egypt and Sudan. Currently over 60% of the country's surface area is physically water scarce. Egypt is not the only country that will be water stressed in the Nile Basin. Ethiopia's population in couple of decades will be 165 million and the per capita water availability will only be 685 m3/p/yr and in the central and eastern part of the country, the per capita water availability will be less than 390 cubic meters per capita per year," Gedion asserted.
The engineer mentioned the colonial and postcolonial era agreements between Egypt and Sudan that allocates all the waters of the Nile to the two countries and allocates zero cubic meters to Ethiopia, the country which contributes 86 to 90 % of the Nile waters as unacceptable that