Actively Taking Part in Basin Wide Initiatives and Signing the Comprehensive Framework Agreement (CFA), Ethiopia Has Been Playing a Constructive Role in Promoting a Win-Win Solution in the Utilization of the Nile Waters.
What the negotiation process over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) thought us is that the application of mutual basin-wide agreements such as the CFA could play a key role in helping the Nile Basin countries achieve a win-win solution in the utilization of the Nile waters.
The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is an intergovernmental partnership of 10 Nile basin countries, namely Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Eritrea participates as an observer.
These countries established the all-inclusive basin-wide institution, on 22nd February, 1999, to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among the Basin states for the sustainable management and development of the shared Nile Basin water and related resources for win-win benefits. The Nile Basin Initiative had been desperately trying to realize mutual cooperation, equitable utilization of the Nile River for many years.
Alternately hosted by riparian countries, the Initiative worked as 'venting spaces'-congregating politicians, legal scholars, technical experts, non-governmental organizations, stake-holding institutions and academics to converse and exchange views on the legal, socio- economic, political and institutional aspects of basin-wide cooperation, regulation and management of the Nile River water resources.
Then after, repeated attempts, five of the nine riparian countries including Ethiopia came together and signed a Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) in 2010; aiming at a fair share of water from the Nile, which was, of course, strongly opposed by Egypt and Sudan. The CFA also resulted in the belief that all riparian countries have a right to use their water resources without causing significant harm on their neighbors.
Since then the Basin has witnessed milestone cooperative steps -steadily transforming the legal and political setting of cooperation in the region.
The mechanisms of the NBI and the CFA should be credited for fulfilling a few vital components of organizational mission -building an atmosphere of trust and dialogue among riparian states and for embedding a sense of growing conviction in a common destiny.
Ethiopia also made the icebreaker move by launching the GERD. Though it is believed that NBI and CFA have been playing important steps in order to meet the objective of equitable utilization of the Nile, they should further oversee the process in the future because they are the right legal and institutional frameworks to deal with the issues of Nile.
As they are concerned more on the issue, all riparian countries should play an active role in Nile issues. Countries that have not signed the CFA should make themselves ready to sign and play a constructive role for the better future of all the people in the basin.