Addis Ababa — :- Ethiopia should focus on completing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and work on related developments, Addis Ababa University Environmental and Development Studies Professor Belay Simane said.
Recall that the Arab League issued a resolution regarding GERD, and Ethiopia criticized it saying that it’s an affront to African Union member states efforts to amicably resolve the issue.
Professor Belay told ENA that Ethiopia should focus on completing the dam and work on related developments rather than reacting to the Egypt-led Arab League decisions because it will not affect GERD’s success.
“I am sorry to react this way. But for me, whatever is decided or issued by the Arab League is irrelevant and we do not have to give emphasis to it.”
Instead, the professor stressed that Ethiopia needs “to focus on how to successfully implement and enhance the success of GERD and other related development-oriented works.”
According to him, the Egyptians are using the Arab League to calm down their internal problems and get support from the West as they are the center of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.
Professor Belay suggested that Ethiopia focus on finishing GERD and work on related development works such as tourism, fishery, transport, and greening of the buffer zone, among others.
“What we need to focus on is to really work hard in order to finish it (the dam) as soon as possible, and also to work on other development-oriented works like the tourism sector, like the fishery, like the transport sector, and other related issues like the buffer zone, the greening of the buffer zone, and upstream greening in order to protect from siltation.”
The scholar elaborated that Ethiopia has made it clear from the beginning that the outcome of GERD should be used in a very joint and win-win situation for the three countries.
“We have also made very clear and transparent offer to work together. What is bad news from that end is the resistance from the Egyptian side. They do not want to lose the hegemony over the Nile River. On the other hand, they want to deny and maintain the colonial treaties, which we cannot really accept.”
Professor Belay said the downstream countries are aware of the long-term benefits of GERD, but the Egyptians, in particular, are ignoring that to continue the colonial time water hegemony.
“We’ve done the environmental and social impact assessment of the GERD, and to be honest, with the exception of short time decrease during the filling, they are not going to be impacted by the GERD. Rather, the Sudanese and next to Sudanese the Egyptians are going to benefit from the GERD in the long run. They know it, but what is the focus of their attention is different from the hydrology impact. It’s a political game that they’re playing,” he elaborated.
The scholar advised that the Egyptian side understand the hydrologic impact, the environmental impact as well as the social impact of the GERD and agree on equitable use of trans-boundary rivers and also admit that Ethiopia has the right to use its own resources and also contribute to the upstream development in order to maintain the life of the Blue Nile.
“We are protecting it (the river), and they are using it. This does not work forever. So if they’re reasonable and they come with their conscience to negotiate, I think the Ethiopian government and even the panel of experts are open to work and to discuss with Egyptian scientists and politicians. So it’s up to them. The ball is in their hands.”
According to Professor Belay, “many people are really blaming Egyptians. Egyptian scientists are misinforming the world, the region, and particularly the West because the GERD does not significantly impact the livelihood and water availability of downstream. (And), they know it!”
The scholar recommended that the three countries work together in a win-win situation to benefit from the river’s water resources in a peaceful, environment friendly, and politically harmonious way.