Egypt: Binding Agreement Over GERD Is Not the Path to a Win-Win Solution

Egypt's call for a binding agreement over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is not acceptable as it has to do with future and unpredictable climate issues and affects Ethiopian generations to come. In fact, such issues have to be dealt with at the time once the phenomenon comes about based on the contexts of the time.

During the GERD negotiation, the five billion dollar hydropower dam which is expected to change the economic development dynamics of Ethiopia and its neighbors more than anything else, Egypt and Sudan repeatedly demanded a binding agreement. Recently, Egyptian media outlets also reported that Egypt rejected an Ethiopian proposal that lacked any elements indicating a binding deal. As to Egyptian officials, Egypt is ready to resume negotiations with the target of reaching a binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD.

Ethiopia, on the other hand, has come up with guidelines on the filling process, as opposed to the legally binding agreement that Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly demanded. It is to be recalled that Ethiopia had sent its version of the Guidelines and Rules on the filling of the GERD, in line with the Communique of the African Union Assembly Bureau and the understanding reached by the Ministers of Water Affairs during their meeting to work on a common document.

Here the crux of the matter is that Ethiopia has always shown its readiness to reach a win-win outcome where all parties come out victories. But, this doesn't mean that a deal has to be reached at the expense of Ethiopia's future or its posterity.

The stance of downstream countries during GERD negotiations have become a stumbling block in reaching a deal that makes all parties come out victorious. The truth is the binding agreement that Egypt and Sudan are looking for is not sound and practical. Their demand is for Ethiopia to release a certain amount of water during Dam filling and times of future unpredictable drought. Such a stance has so many flaws to be practical. First, it doesn't take into consideration the current reality on the ground and the principle of fair and equal utilization of the Nile. Second, it has been repeatedly stated that GERD is a hydropower project which is basically a non-consumptive use of water. Third, the effect of the binding agreement that the downstream countries are looking for is not only limited to this generation. It will also have an effect on the posterity who is not part of the current negotiation process. In fact, the posterity has to be let free to determine its fate in its own hand.

Again, it is very difficult to forecast drought that may come about due to climate change. Because of all these issues, signing a binding agreement based on an unpredictable global climate change threat would be imprudent for Ethiopia. It is sound for Ethiopia not to accept the fact that it will release water from the Dam to downstream countries based on a binding agreement. In fact, it would be a violation of its interest and the purpose of the Dam, which is the production of hydropower without consuming water. Above all, some of the issues have to be dealt with based on specific contexts of the future happenings.

More From: Ethiopian Herald

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