Egypt, Sudan Will Benefit More from Completion of GERD, Says Public Policy Professor

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Addis Ababa, August  1/2020 (ENA) Egypt and Sudan will benefit more from completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Addis Ababa University Professor Costantinos Berhe said.

In exclusive interview with ENA, Public Policy Professor Costantinos Berhe said the dam will have huge benefit not only for Ethiopia but also Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia was left behind in development due to the unfair treaty of the British colonial power on Abbay River, he noted, adding that the construction of the dam now is an example of how countries can cooperate with one another on utilizing water.

“We can cooperate on agricultural development and water resource development. Frankly speaking both Egypt and Sudan should contribute to environmental conservation in the Blue Nile valley, because the more we conserve the catchment areas of the valley the more water will be retained for the two countries,” the professor elaborated.

Costantinos pointed out that a lot of negotiations have been going with the riparian countries, especially Sudan and Egypt; and Sudan would be the biggest beneficiary of this undertaking because it will have more water for its irrigable land.

Egypt has been raising lots of questions about its fear of not getting enough water. That is not tenable anymore because there is enough water in the Abay River.

“I don’t think the Egyptian would be overly concerned because this water is not just an economic issue, it is also humanitarian issue. I don’t think the Ethiopian government or any Ethiopian believes that Egypt would be harmed because of this dam.”

But, Egyptians are trying to divert their internal problem to the dam, Costantinos added.

Upon completion, the dam will transform the environment assets around the lake and the entire population can have access to electricity.

Egypt’s concerns have taken several negotiations and meetings, but “ I think the culprit here is the colonial treaty in 1929 and 1959 where Egypt is made 100 percent beneficiary of the Nile River, with of course Sudan in the second treaty. Ethiopia is given zero, he revealed.

The professor clarified the point by saying, “ Egyptians might feel frustrated, but I don’t think they need to take it anywhere except to seat down and agree on both the economic and humanitarian aspect of this dam because the dam is owned 100 percent by Ethiopians and Ethiopia has respected all international water agreements that are necessary to build this dam and fill it with water. Therefore, the fear of the Egyptians  is very unfounded.”

Over the last three years, the rainfall pattern in Ethiopia has been good and storing water in the highlands of Ethiopia means less evaporation during the dry season in Egypt. So Egypt will have more water, he stated.

If excess water happens on the Nile, on the contrary, Egyptians don’t want to even use it and send it to the Mediterranean, Therefore their complaints are unfounded, Costantinos revealed.

Appreciating the role of AU and its leadership in the negotiation process, the professor said it is an important institution for Africans.  

He further stated that the African Union has done a good job in terms of bringing Ethiopia and Egypt closer, and given legitimacy to AU means that any problem that arises within Africa should be resolved by Africans themselves.