East Africa: The Congressional Black Caucus Statement on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

An aerial photo of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
press release

In recent months negotiations have stalled and there has been an escalation of tensions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that impacts, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) encourages the continued cooperation and peaceful negotiations of all stakeholders in the construction of the GERD. These negotiations should be based on mutual benefit, good faith, and the principles of international law. The multi-billion-dollar GERD project was announced in 2011, and will have a positive impact in the region by providing Africa’s biggest hydropower dam that will generate approximately 6,000 megawatts of electricity, thus allowing Ethiopia to export power to neighboring countries.

The Congressional Black Caucus urges the United States and all other international actors to respect the 2015 Declaration of Principles trilateral agreement signed between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, and to continue to play an impartial role, only seeking the counsel of the African Union and diplomats on the ground in the region. In particular, the African Union has a pivotal role to play by expressing to all parties that a peaceful negotiated deal benefits all and not just some on the continent.

The GERD project directly affects the flow of water, the supply of energy, and the food security of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Recently, the region’s agriculture sector has suffered due to abnormal precipitation droughts. With Egypt’s rapidly growing population nearing 100 million, the GERD will help improve water supply and take pressure off the Nile river, which supplies an overwhelming majority of the country’s fresh water. In Ethiopia, the country is currently facing a drought that is expected to directly impact nearly 20 percent of its population combined with a locust outbreak that has eaten more than 80,000 acres of crops in recent months. In Sudan, the GERD dam will contribute to the country’s water regulation and sediment reduction, and expand agricultural projects, increase hydropower production, and provide flood control.

The GERD project will have a positive impact on all countries involved and will help combat food security and lack of electricity and power, supply more fresh water to more people, and stabilize and grow the economies in the region. The Congressional Black Caucus supports a peaceful negotiation to the implementation of the GERD project, and stands ready to support the African Union and all stakeholders on peacefully achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.

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