Ethiopia: Let us not Instigate Confusion!

Mohammed Nassir

The era, which we live in now, requires more than ever, strong and genuine cooperation among countries of the world. We have been witnessing the fact that sustainable development could not be effectively attained at a country level unless it is supported by regional or international cooperation based on shared interests and benefits.

Since the world understood the fact that cooperation among countries is key to survive, the international community at large and the different continents of the world in particular, have been promoting the establishment of political and economic cooperation to realizing a sustainable development that benefits the entire humankind and to creating peace and stability.

In this regard, Ethiopia, a country which I know very well should be appreciated for she has been working diligently to create political and economic cooperation with in the international community in general, Africa and notably in the Horn of Africa in particular, by making development the center of its policies and strategies.

According to the country’s Foreign Affairs Policy and Strategy, which is under implementation since 2002, ensuring sustainable national development could be doubtful unless supported by the prevalence of regional peace and development.

And thus there must be a healthy relations and co-operations with the countries neighboring Ethiopia and other countries of the continent as well as the world.

The practical implementation of the Foreign Affairs Policy and Strategy helped Ethiopia to successfully gain a great deal of recognition, respect and trust by the international community.

Due to its policies, at present Ethiopia has been able to have stronger relations and cooperation with many countries and multilateral organizations in the world than it did have before.

The country, which was only identified by poverty among the outside world, has now attained substantial economic development in the last two decades. Currently, the country has also engaged itself in a number of huge development activities aimed at eradicating poverty and put the nation among one of the middle income countries of the world.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of these development projects. The construction of this dam over the river Nile was commenced with the above sprit of cooperation.

According to government officials the construction of the dam is being in progress as per the time set in the plan. So far 11 percent of its work has been finalized.

Ethiopia has been playing a very constructive role on issues related to the equitable utilization of the Nile Basin resources and to creating understanding and trust among the nations sharing the Nile River.

The country has repeatedly made known that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is not meant only to itself, but to ensure the benefits and interests of the other riparian countries.

I have also observed Ethiopia’s efforts to create a regional and international atmosphere suitable for the equitable utilization of the water of the Nile.

In my view, the initiative made by the government of Ethiopia for the establishment of an international inquiry committee composed of experts drawn from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, as well as four international experts to investigate whether the dam will affect the interests of Egypt and Sudan, manifests how Ethiopia is committed to creating cooperation in order to ensure shared interests and benefits.

Ethiopia initiated the establishment of this committee by its late Prime Minister Meles zenawi, just to build a sense of confidence and cooperation among Egypt and Sudan so as to allow them to engage in continued cooperation serving their interests.

And to show its conviction that the project would never affect the riparian states as well as to demonstrate its assurance that this dam would be beneficial not only to Ethiopia but to Egypt and Sudan also.

This should be taken as a manifestation to Ethiopia’s firm confidence in that the Renaissance Dam is intended for the benefit of the three countries and it will further strengthen the cooperation between these countries.

The joint tripartite international committee has begun its work and now is assessing the impacts of Ethiopia’s hydro-power dam project. For instance last week the committee has made a second visit to the construction site.

Though the committee is expected to present its findings in February to the governments of the three countries, according to some media recent reports, so far in its study it has indicated that the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will have no negative impact to Egypt and Sudan.

The various studies carried out by the government of Ethiopia have also clearly indicated that the project would make beneficial both Egypt and Sudan in a number of ways.

According to theses studies the project will have the benefit of preventing floods and silting in downstream countries for the flow of the water will be regulated throughout the year. It will also increase the amount of water resources available, reducing the wastage from evaporation which has been a serious problem for the downstream countries.

In my understanding, Ethiopia would never initiate such project from the very beginning and propose the establishment of the International Committee to investigate its impact if it negatively affects Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt’s Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa Eddin told Al-Masry Al-Youm, the final report on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be submitted to the governments of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in February. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm the report includes plans for action in case the dam is found to negatively affect any of the three countries.

The Minister also said that the four international experts on the panel evaluating the dam are focusing on its environmental effects on Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The final decision will be made by the experts committee. Even if the committee finds out that the project would negatively affect the interest of Egypt and Sudan, then in my belief, if there is genuine cooperation among these countries, they could be able to bring a practical solution in order to guarantee the common interests of each country.

However, the comments being given by some Media about the dam are very distressing as they try to instigate threat and confusion particularly among Egyptians by portraying the dam as a danger to the very survival of that country. But these comments and media reports are not substantiated by proper empirical evidences.

As far as I am concerned this assessment is not only incorrect but also very immoral as it tries to create misunderstanding and suspicion among the people of the riparian countries.

However, Ethiopia’s policy of cooperation has been successful. The practical commitment displayed by the Government to ensuring the interest of Egyptians regarding River Nile, have made the people of Egypt realize how Ethiopia is genuinely working to strengthen cooperation with their country.

According to information obtained from the government of Ethiopia, the exchange of views during the visit of top-level government officials of both countries to each other’s nations especially after the launch of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam over the Nile River has enabled to improve not only the diplomatic relations between the two countries but also minimize the wrongly perceived mistrust of the Egyptian people.

Thus, I kindly request the media and some so called intellectuals who are engaged in instigating confusion and misunderstanding, to instead focus on strengthening cooperation and dialogues as well as wait for the final rulings of the international committee, if they really are concerned to their country.

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