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The longest river in the world, source of cooperation or conflict?

The drums of war have been beating since 2011, the beginning of work on the construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam but as Ethiopia’s Dam on the Blue Nile nears completion, the sound of the drums had become louder than the waves of the river itself.

Nile
Ethiopia expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the dam, while Egypt and Sudan, both downstream Nile Basin countries, are concerned that the dam might affect their share of the water resources. (Photo source: Reuters)

By Mahmoud Addanou

With dire consequences of climate change sweeps Africa and the world, the Nile, the longest river in the world, instead of becoming a source of life and cooperation among the inhabitants of its shores, gradually became one of the frontlines of conflict over its water after The drums of war are beating equally between three countries: Ethiopia upstream, Sudan crossing, and Egypt downstream.

The drums of war have been beating since 2011, the beginning of work on the construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam but as Ethiopia’s Dam on the Blue Nile nears completion, the sound of the drums had become louder than the waves of the river itself.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) , one of the largest dams in the world located on the Blue Nile River near the Sudan border, under construction since 2011, The primary purpose of the dam is electricity production to relieve Ethiopia’s acute energy shortage and for electricity export to neighboring countries. With a planned installed capacity of 5.15 gigawatts, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the seventh largest in the world.

Filling the reservoir began in July 2020, It will take between 4 and 7 years to fill with water, depending on hydrologic conditions during the filling period, the second phase of filling was completed on 19 July 2021, without the agreement of Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the dam, while Egypt and Sudan, both downstream Nile Basin countries, are concerned that the dam might affect their share of the water resources.

The negotiations on (GERD) have gone through many stages from 1995 tell suspended in Apr, 2021, without yielding results.

Since the suspension of negotiations, the three countries have been preoccupied with internal political crises, a coup in Sudan, a war in Ethiopia and political instability in Egypt, and settlement of the water crisis is no longer a priority, unexpectedly This Week the Egyptian government called for resuming negotiations, as soon as possible.

Egypt is keen to reach a legally binding deal, on the filling and operating of the GERD, that secures Ethiopia’s interests in electricity generation and sustainable development, without harming downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, Egyptian Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly said in a statement.

“Egypt is interested in resuming negotiations as soon as possible, with the aim of accelerating the resolution of the technical and legal disputes, in order to reach a fair, balanced and equitable agreement, taking into account Egypt’s water scarcity and its dependence mainly on the Nile water,” Madbouly said.

Can negotiations resume? and does it lead to solutions to the crisis? The current political situation in the Nile Basin countries does not give rise to optimism, Sudan is still without a government and Ethiopia just got out of battles with Tigray rebels.

Therefore, it is not possible to return to meaningful negotiations

The Nile is the longest river in the world and brings together 11 riparian countries. These are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and Egypt.

If the riparian countries came into such a common understanding, they would have been able to cooperate rather than going into a never-ending conflict.

Firehiwot Sintayehu, assistant professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Addis Ababa University, said that if the Nile riparian countries were able to cooperate, they would be able to share ultimate benefits from the Nile.

(The author is a Sudanese journalist/political analyst based in Kathmandu. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).

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