Ethiopia: Prominent Scholars' Views On First Phase Water Impoundment

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia has completed the first phase water impoundment at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) yesterday. On the occasion, The Ethiopian Herald approached two prominent scholars, Dr. Yakob Arsano and Dr. Samuel Tefera Alemu, who have been making significant contributions to Ethiopia's negotiations over the dam and the Abay River to share their views. Here are their reflections: Professor Yaqob Arsano said: I'm excited and feeling national pride. The posterity will learn a lot from such success stories and continue to utilize other transboundary water resources. All Ethiopians sacrificed a lot for the realization of such a grand project. We have gotten through difficult negotiations and discussions so as to utilize our national resource. To realize such an achievement, we have travelled a long journey wisely. Now, we have accomplished the first phase of the journey.

All Ethiopians who are eager to witness this phase relentlessly supported our journey. They are feeling the excitement as they have managed to see the fruits of their labours. It is also a springboard for future successes. We should not halt our journey here.

Ethiopia has shown a wise and win-win approach and patience to deal with the issue and protect its interests in a manner that does not harm others in the basin. Others can learn a lot from this approach. The filling of the dam without harming the interests of downstream countries will give a chance to Sudan and Egypt to understand Ethiopia's stance, which is sharing the benefits of the Nile through cooperation. Besides, the occasion is not only a victory for Ethiopia but also the African Union.

On his part Dr. Samuel Tefera said: The news of the successful first phase filling of GERD is a historic breakthrough in our collective action to alleviate poverty through investment in clean energy projects. The contribution of every Ethiopian citizen and its leaders in the making of this project is beyond explanation. The news about this national flagship project from Guba took all of us with a great surprise. It has taken a tough long process to prove to the international community that the efforts we have been putting into realizing our dreams are based on principles of equitable use of the river and are all based on proactive engagement of member states in the Abbay basin.

The CFA and the trilateral discussions are not a failure as often referred to be so. Despite bringing no final closure to strike a binding deal so far, the CFA uncovered Egypt's greed and Ethiopia's genuine position towards the promotion of regional cooperation and greater economic integration in Africa. Our persistent and firm adherence to equitable use of Abbay river and installing positive peace in the region will continue to be an example and reference to any cooperative engagement in the use and management of trans-boundary rivers within the Abbay river basin and beyond.

Ethiopia's action revealed to the world that greed and arrogance have no place in the new Abbay basin hydro-political landscape any more. We have now started our long march to economic and financial freedom--a freedom that can liberate us from dependency on foreign aid. The impoundment of GERD is an extension of post Adwa contemporary nation building project to lead Ethiopia towards unity, prosperity and greater transformation.

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