Egypt Should Opt for Genuine CooperationWoman commits suicide at Oshivelo

By Bereket Sisay

The recent fourth round of negotiations on the Great Renaissance Dam ended inconclusively due to Egypt’s intransigence over the dysfunctional colonial agreement and its consequent unwillingness to reach an agreement on the dam, in particular to finalize the rules and guidelines for its initial filling and annual operation. Despite Egypt’s blockade of a tripartite consensus, Ethiopia continues to build its colossal dam on the basis of equitable sharing of natural resources, with concrete construction due to be completed next June. But in an unusual diplomatic gesture, Ethiopia, as the upstream country, continues to plead with the downstream countries to accept its zeal to develop its natural resources without harming its neighbors, contrary to the modus operandi of contemporary realpolitik, if I’m not mistaken.

Old Habits Die Hard…

It is baffling how Egypt still deliberately misunderstands Ethiopia’s position and obfuscates reality in its favour. Years ago, researchers proved that the dam w
ould have no significant impact on the lower riparian countries. Moreover, Ethiopia has often expressed its intention not to harm its neighbors as a sign of its political commitment to regional cooperation. Against this background, Egypt has been busy accusing Ethiopia of neglecting the concerns of the riparian states and pursuing its own position at the expense of others. In reality, however, it is Egypt that is the hegemonic agent over this natural resource, to which Ethiopia contributes more than 80 percent while using zero; conversely, Egypt takes the lion’s share while contributing nothing.

However, there is no international law, including customary international law that supports Egypt’s illogical assumption regarding ‘its water security’. The Egyptian side has created pitfalls against genuine cooperation and a way forward.

The Baseless lament echoed by Egypt regarding Ethiopia’s dam is nothing but one of its conspiracies being orchestrated to deter Ethiopia’s aspiration for development, without causi
ng harm on any of the riparian nations.

Principle Stance, Diplomatic Push

From the very beginning of the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia has made it clear that an internal development issue has driven the country to harness the Nile. Ethiopia has a huge population, while a significant portion of the population is still mired in abject poverty. This has been caused by compounding challenges but basically as a result of the lack of huge infrastructural facilities that have a huge impact on the human development in the country. Inadequate level of electric power is a major challenge as it is a basic recipe to intensify development in every sector. Ethiopia, in a move to avert this cycle of poverty and tilt towards a realm of development with fast economic growth, it has started the dam. The very notion of Ethiopia’s quest to develop and start building the dam while using its natural resources is no different from Egypt’s years of aspiration to use the Nile River, if we are really able to lo
ok at its basics.

Again, Ethiopia did not just start building the dam out of the blue. The dam is being built in accordance with international laws governing transboundary water resources. What’s more, the scientific studies carried out on the dam have proven that the dam will not have any significant negative hydrological, socio-economic and environmental impact on the downstream countries, and it is on the basis of this empirical finding that the nation has proceeded with the construction of the dam. This stance is firm and stands in stark contrast to Egypt’s puzzling water security concerns, which have no legal basis whatsoever with regard to shared natural resources. Ethiopia’s pragmatic stance implies, among other things, a simple inclination towards possible political and diplomatic exercises that double down on the principle of regional integration, an agenda for which Ethiopia is known. More importantly, Ethiopia has always made a diplomatic push to change course to a realm of genuine engagement, and
this will continue in the future, as the government’s interest’s show.

Cooperation – A step forward

The Nile is a shared natural resource that all riparian countries have the right to use and develop on the basis of equality and fairness. Any move that goes against this general practice could potentially turn the water into a point of contention rather than a variable for mutually beneficial development. This has been evident over the years as disagreements over the dam have arisen at different levels of the construction process, with Egypt unable to objectively understand Ethiopia’s concerns. This has created mistrust that further limits cooperation on various regional agendas, including water resources. Thus, genuine negotiation is the only viable solution to this lingering stalemate.

For this to happen, Egypt must first recognize Ethiopia’s genuine intention to build the dam, the basic principle of fairness and equality vis-à-vis international water law, be it the Helsinki or any other conventional agre
ement on the use of transboundary water resources. The other major factor that could potentially change Cairo’s mind would have been the status quo, as the principle of ‘do no harm’ has been upheld throughout the dam’s construction. Moreover, Ethiopia has reaffirmed its commitment to uphold this principle in the future. In addition, the riparian countries should work towards the establishment of the Nile Basin Commission to promote equitable and reasonable use of the Nile waters.

Despite the tripartite disagreement, and with no alternative option left for Ethiopia, the Grand Renaissance Dam is by now a done deal as its construction is already in sight. However, there may be a need to continue to use the Nile water for future needs, either for Ethiopia or for other countries, and such a legal framework is by far essential to avoid a split among the countries of the region to use water resources for mutual development. Ethiopia, together with other countries, is spearheading the agenda to accelerate the ratifi
cation of the Comprehensive Framework Agreement (CFA) by the member states of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which is a prerequisite for the establishment of the Commission.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

OSHIVELO: A 25-year-old woman reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself with a cloth at Oshivelo in the Oshikoto region, on Saturday.

According to an incident report by the Namibian Police Force availed here, the incident happened after the deceased allegedly quarrelled with her boyfriend, the previous night.

The deceased was identified as Esther Ndatyooli Thomas.

No suicide note was left and the deceased body was transported to Omuthiya police mortuary for handling.

The next of kin have been informed and police investigation continues.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency