Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Finding A Common Ground

The role of energy in transforming and catalyzing development is in no question. The household level impacts of energy lifts people of a nation out of poverty, inequity and other constraints thereby transitioning the lives of millions of people. In Ethiopia, the profound impacts of the energy sector have for so long remained one of the focal points of development strategies. Different regimes through the years made it a point to develop policies that ensure energy needs of the people of Ethiopia. Despite the efforts, these fundamental human needs that are accorded in the UN universal declaration of human rights still remain luxurious to the majority of Ethiopians.

To change this reality the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) embarked on rural electrification programs that intended to light up off grid communities residing in rugged terrains and desert areas. One of the attempts is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which is hoped to generate over 6000Megawatts of electricity.  GERD is a long awaited dream for millions of youth for an employment opportunity, and bread for the impoverished drought hit pastoral communities.

However, the obstruction of Egypt and Sudan who still are holding onto the stipulations of an outdated and unfair treaty signed in the 1950s has put dents on the smooth proceedings of the dam.

ABN sat down with Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy – Seleshi Bekele who elaborated on equitable and fair division of the Nile water shares, that Ethiopians are always looking forward to a “win-win solution” for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam through trilateral negotiation, rejecting the 1902/1952 colonial water agreements. Dr. Eng. Seleshi said, “We have discussed the current stalemates, mechanisms of resumption of negotiation and Ethiopia’s views on the negotiation issues, progress of the construction and way forward”, adding that Ethiopia remains committed to a win-win solution and as always committed to African solutions for African problems in finding true solution through trilateral negotiation.

Throughout the years, Egypt and Sudan have jointly and separately highlighted the need to reach a binding agreement on the dam, to secure the rights of both countries neglecting the concept of fair share. However, Ethiopia unilaterally implemented the first phase of the dam filling last year and insists to implement the second filling in July 2021 despite the absence of a binding agreement and the concerns of the Egypt and Sudan. To break the continued delaying tactics and the obstruction of the two countries, Ethiopia proposed new strategic solutions towards creating a conducive atmosphere and progressive confidence.

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