Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Political Scientist and Lecturer at IRIC, Yaounde 11 University.
Is more than a year that Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are in conflict over the construction of the Nile dam, what in your opinion is the problem?
What I would say with regards to the Nile dam construction by Ethiopia and the objection by Egypt and Sudan is that all the 54 African countries that are members of the African Union have common development goals or objectives with each country out to accelerate its economic development. That is genuine, legitimate and even indispensable and necessary. Therefore because all the 54 countries that are members' of the AU have these objectives in common, no African country should give its self the right to stop or delay the economic development of another country. It would be against the very principles of their foreign policy, against African brotherhood and also no African country in trying to achieve its economic development should do so at the expense of another country because each African country is free, is legitimate and is sovereign. In the case of the construction of the dam over the Nile, I think that there is no problem. It is legitimate for Ethiopia to construct the dam if they have the means especially if the dam would enable them accelerate their economic development goals. But if Egypt and Sudan realized that the construction of the dam would be against their own goals, rather than entertain a conflict, I think the best option is that the three countries should get together because after 60 years of independence (even though Ethiopia was never colonized), African countries should know that they are matured enough to solved their own problem rather than seek aid from other countries. The three countries are matured enough to solve the problem. As a political scientist and as an African international relations scholar, I think that after 60 years, the time has come for African countries to look towards themselves and try to solve their own problems. This can be done if they monster courage, the will, call on their consciences as African states, African brotherhood which we call Pan-Africanism is a principle of their foreign policies which they cannot ignore. In case they cannot do it, I think the AU in its Agenda 23 has the mechanism to be able to help the process that is why in Kinshasa (DR Congo), talks were held under the AU Chair, President Felix Tshisekedi.
Why do you think attempts by the AU, US and other regional bodies to seek a peaceful solution to the wrangling have failed?
I think if attempts by these bodies and countries have failed which I don't particularly believed have failed, then the three countries involved (Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan), should look at themselves on the face and ask themselves the question. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are very big countries even though Sudan has been having several internal squabbles with regards to constitutional order, it would be a very big embarrassment if the three countries after 60 years can't solve the problem themselves. I think they should ask themselves what is wrong because three countries out of 54 should not behave as if they are not matured. They should look at the benefits rather than failure. Agenda 2063 of the AU, the UN Sustainable Development Goals demand that each country especially African countries should think success rather failure. Failure is not an option in Africa because in all development plans I have mentioned, failure is not on the schedule therefore, if they have an issue and start thinking only of failure it therefore means they want their own economic development programs to fail. African States after going through what they went through in their history in order to secure independence 60 years ago, I think the wrangling over the construction of the Nile dam is a detail that they can go through sooner or later. Therefore the word failure should be dust out
Do you think the demand by Egypt and Sudan for the UN, US and EU to be included in the negotiations is a good strategy in solving the problem?
My answer is simple. It is not a good strategy because it makes Africa look bad, it makes Africa look immature and asking for external mediator does not give a good image of the countries concerned. It is high time African countries should know that when you are independent, sovereign for 60 years, you are an adult, must be responsible, rational, logical and modern enough to look at things the positive way. I think the 54 African countries have these in their agenda, if not they should be committed to these values. The construction of a dam over the River Nile which is a common resource that belongs to countries concerned is a detail. The Nile is not owned by one country and no one country should take it as a personal property. It should be seen as a shared opportunity to all the countries. They don't need the UN, US or EU to get a solution because they are matured enough. An African solution or intervention is possible.