Nine years have passed since Ethiopia started constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) just to minimize women's burden of domestic work in firing wood to cook, to help children to stop using candle or oil lamp while they are reading, to address electricity for its citizens properly. And the country is also negotiating with the neighboring countries about the fair benefit of the GERD for several years.
Years of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan with a variety of mediators, including United States President Trump's administration, have failed to produce a solution. The two downstream nations, Egypt and Sudan, have repeatedly insisted Ethiopia must not start filling the reservoir without reaching a deal first.
Currently the tripartite negotiation between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan is being held by the AU. The AU's involvement in the GERD dispute was precipitated by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's bold move to engage the AU as the facilitator of the talks in the spirit of finding 'African solutions to Africa's problems'.
US President Donald Trump last Friday voiced anger at Ethiopia over its construction of a huge dam on the Nile River and appeared to suggest that Egypt may destroy it. Trump made the remarks as he announced a breakthrough normalization deal between US ally Israel and Sudan, which like Egypt fears that Ethiopia will use up scarce water resources.
Following his belligerent threat against Ethiopia, different international and national offices, individuals, scholars and citizens across the nation have slammed the President's speech. On the contrary Ethiopians are commenting that his threat will bring a good opportunity to show Ethiopians unity.
Mekonen Abera, Sociologist told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopians have no historical record of being frustrated by any external threat. "We all know how to respect others, how to make diplomacy with other countries, how to solve problems, and even how to win our enemies including poverty. Therefore nothing ever frustrates us to continue our path to avoid our poverty in regarding with completing the construction of the Dam," he noted.
Indeed the president's boundless and irresponsible statement brought a huge advantage over the societies despite its slight negative impact. First it shows how Ethiopia is becoming influential country across the world. This adds pride to Ethiopian citizens.
Second, the statement helps Ethiopian communities to stare on the construction of the GERD as they all know the indispensable advantage of the dam. Currently every local Media (broadcast, print and social), individuals and groups across every corner of the country are blasting the President's statement that suggests Egypt to blow the dam. Therefore the president has set a common agenda for Ethiopians to discuss together.
Having the above advantages, technical committees of the Ethiopian Negotiating Delegation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and the Government should strengthen their stance about Ethiopia's sovereignty and national interest. On top of this, the President's statement will create negative effect on the negotiators to influence Ethiopia.
Owing to the fact that, the GERD offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of citizens out of poverty, every Ethiopian citizen should continue their contribution in bond purchasing and donating money in cash, Mekonen suggested.
"Our forefathers fended off external enemies and kept our sovereignty at all. And now we are on the right path to fight with and win poverty. So by now nothing will ever frustrate us from achieving our goal which is constructing of the GERD. I am ready to pay any sacrifice regarding the completion of the dam" Taye Mulugeta, Addis Ababa resident said.
As to him, the statement by the president voiced last week lacks respect and diplomatic approach. As Adwa has been an icon for the anti-colonization struggle of Ethiopia, we must complete the GERD as another icon of inspiration and hope for all the oppressed people.
He further stated that no factor will reduce nation's motivation and inspiration for completing the construction of the dam. If the government is committed about the issue, no force on the face of the earth will stop the completion of the dam and the people of Ethiopia are always by its side regarding the national issue, he noted.
All things considered, Ethiopia must boost its power generation capacity having the aspiration to transform its agrarian economy into an industrial one. Therefore the government and the society should work in collaboration for the completion of GERD parallel with forgetting the external threats, they agreed.