14 June 2018

East Africa: Regionalized Perspectives in Dealing With Nile Basin Crucial - Experts

ADDIS ABABA - Poor management of resources is the major cause of African backwardness, regional water resources experts stressed while calling for regionalized perspectives in the utilization of Nile basin water resource.

In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald recently, Kajibu Enock, Ugandan national specialized in Water Resources Engineering and Drainage Systems said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is beautiful for Ethiopia and for the surrounding countries in the region on one way or the other.

Therefore, the region has to have regionalized perspectives for developments carried out in the Nile basin so that every country can develop and benefit from the water, he stated.

Enock said initially there were lots of questions about GERD because of the controversies between Egypt and Ethiopia. But now, everybody is looking forward for the Dam to be completed because it is a mega Dam and the biggest in Africa that can benefit the surrounding countries.

The Dam will be a great thing for the East African Region, but what matters most here is the harmonization of the riparian countries, Enock added.

Egypt has been utilizing the Nile Water based on the unfair colonial treaty. Now, the best component to utilize the water resource is through creating harmonization with upper riparian countries from the progressive and sustainable development point of view, he said.

He further said that Africa needs to

put in place integrated water resources management systems and have infrastructural planning for water resources development so that every country comes up to develop its own water resources in a fair and reasonable manner.

He also added that Egypt has to look into and realize the fact that Ethiopians are very much determined in financing their own dam with sense of patriotism. It has to come in to the deal during the dam filling stages.

The Ugandan advised Egyptians to look forward if they have to use some of their reservoirs and the bordering Mediterranean Sea during the dam filling period; they have to go to use such options.

"I suggest that Egypt cannot win if it doesn't come to the Nile basin initiative. They should have to come to all kinds of agreements, and we need Ethiopia and the Nile basin initiative."

Dr. Yilma Sleshi, Prof. of Civil and Environmental Engineering for his part said that as the majority of the Nile waters originate in Ethiopia, the country has the right to benefit from its resources.

Then again, GERD which is being constructed in the Nile River in Ethiopia is beneficial both for the lower and upper riparian countries. Thus, common understanding of countries in the region regarding the issue is imperative, Dr. Yilma added.

The claim for the utilization of the Nile water based on the pretext of historical right is wrong, Zerihun Abebe, a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Ethiopia did not accept any forms of colonialism and necessarily the colonial treaties signed with the colonial masters are also unacceptable. They are outdated, according to Zerihun.

Ethiopia has no interest of harming the lower riparian countries but to utilize its resources for the sake of getting rid of poverty based on the win-win approach.

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