Ethiopians are marking the 10th Anniversary of the construction of GERD this week tearing down every conspiracy and mendacious propaganda and threats the people had to face simply because they have resolved to construct a dam that would generate electricity by their own resources.
April 2011 marked a turning point and change of the status quo ante in shattering hydro hegemony that was mean to prevent Ethiopia from using its own water resources from the Blue Nile by means of irrational colonial treaties of 1929 and 1959. These treaties were part of the British Scramble for Africa, geared at not only depriving Ethiopia of its rights but also all the Nile riparian countries from ever using the Nile.
Over the last 10 years, Ethiopia conducted the construction of GERD in the most transparent and mutually beneficial manner starting with sharing the blueprint of the dam up to taking the initiative for establishing a tripartite negotiation to ensure the equitable utilization of the waters of the Blue Nile based on internationally accepted principles on the utilization of Transboundary Rivers which included equitable and reasonable utilization of water resources, principle of notification, consultation and negotiations as well as cooperation and information exchange.
For ten years, Ethiopia adhered to these principles of international law and masterminded the Nile Basin Cooperation Framework even before holding a ground breaking ceremony for GERD. Both the framework and initiative were rejected by Sudan and Egypt.
The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) encompassing DR. Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, The Sudan, Egypt, Tanzania and Uganda was instituted on February 22, 1999 in which Eretria assumed a status of observer. Following the initiative, a Cooperative Framework Agreement was drafted in 2010 and as the result of their disagreement with Article 14, b of the agreement which stated ... not to significantly affect the internal security of any other Nile Basin State which all countries except for Egypt and Sudan agreed to ratify. Egypt came up with her own version of the article which stated not to adversely affect the water security and current uses and rights of any other Nile Basin State. This amendment suggested by Egypt was in fact meant as a direct endorsement of the former colonial treaties to which Ethiopia was not a party.
In 2015, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt signed the DoP and in 2018, a Joint Research Group was formed but could not agree on the general framework of the research program. With a lobby from Egypt, the Donald Trump Administration and the World Bank attempted to participate in the Tripartite Negotiations as observers but later shifted themselves to the level of arbitrators in which the US Treasury Department issued an agreement document which was not in its mandate and tried to force Ethiopia to sign the document which the country categorically rejected.
Trump openly threatened that Egypt can bombard the dam at any time contrary to international diplomatic ethics giving himself the right to directly interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia providing a diplomatic support to Egypt in a similar fashion as some members of the League of Nations blessed Italian aggression on Ethiopia.
On the 19th of June, Egypt requested the UNSC to interfere in the negotiation process but the UNSC referred the case to the AU. On June 25 and 26, the three countries agreed to accept the negotiating role of the AU. However, Sudan and Egypt were repeatedly withdrawing and rejoining the negotiations and were busy looking for a means to pressurize Ethiopia to sign a binding document which stresses drought mitigation measures that Ethiopia should take. Ethiopia continued to stress that the DoP would suffice to come to final agreement.
Shifting her direction from the legal technical content of the negotiations, Egypt continued to politicize the issue of negotiations by taking the case to UNSC which authorized the AU to serve as a lead regional organization for the GERD negotiations. Egypt tried to use her good office in the Arab League and came up with an irrational resolution as a tool for exerting pressure on Ethiopia and as mentioned above tried to rally the US and EU against Ethiopia. Sudan was always swinging between supporting and opposing legitimate measure taken by Ethiopia, changing positions under pressure from Egypt.
Ethiopia has full respect for the AU as a regional organization with the highest caliber to lead the negotiations to conclusion. Ethiopia has the highest regards for its partners including USA, UN and other international organizations but asking these countries to be included in the negotiations has no use except for using the situation as a delaying tactics. The US had adopted a legitimate position of not participating in the negotiations unless the consent of the negotiating parties is acquired.
This flagship project is being built as a gift from the current generation of Ethiopians to the coming generation so that the territorial and water resource utilization sovereignty shall be cherished through generations.
The country has consistently stressed that the country has no intention of harming any neighboring country but strives for the equitable utilization of the waters of the Blue Nile.
Responding to questions raised by the MPs recently regarding the current status of GERD, Prime Minister Abiy said that Ethiopia has no intention to harm the neighboring brotherly countries but will definitely keep the promise made to the peoples of Ethiopia by filling GERD on the second round. I call upon the countries to cooperate with Ethiopia in helping to develop the waters of the Nile for their mutual benefits.
He added that Ethiopia will not allow 65per cent of its population to continue living in darkness but will address the issue in the most legal-technical manner.
Reports from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy indicate that the overall average construction of GERD has reached about 79 percent. A similar report indicates that although the initial budget earmarked for GERD was 84 billion Birr over the last ten years and is estimated to cost about 160 billion Birr upon total completion in December 2023. Despite the economic challenges the country had to face, Ethiopians have continued to support the construction of GERD in further efforts they are making in purchase of bonds.
As repeatedly stressed, Ethiopia is building GERD not only for itself but also as part of the regional program of supplementing regional economic integration by providing a hydroelectric power grid for Africa's development programs. GERD is a practical response of Ethiopia's share to the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.
GERD will convert conflict into peace and competition into cooperation. It will provide unique tourist attraction center for local, African and international tourists. It will serve as a regional center for research in hydrology and aquatic life.
At this point in time, a greater appreciation and recognition needs to be accorded to the peoples and government of Ethiopia for leading the construction, financing and providing moral support through on site visits to GERD. Special appreciation also needs to go to Ethiopians and citizens of Ethiopian origin, persons of creative arts who contributed to the construction of GERD. Ethiopia will foil all conspiracies geared towards sabotaging the construction of GERD and emerge victoriously.