Dam Changing Dominant Narrative on Nile River, Says UNESCO Int’l Water Cooperation Chair

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Addis Ababa July 14/2021 (ENA) UNESCO International Water Cooperation Chair, Professor Ashok Swain, said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been dramatically changing the dominant narrative to become the upstream mega hydropower project in the history of the Nile River.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Professor Swain said construction of the dam has  enabled  Ethiopia to become a legitimate party to the basin as well as to the negotiation process.

The professor, who said he has been closely following the Nile basin for close to 30 years, noted that there was not positive sign by Egypt in particular to even have a small infrastructure in Ethiopia. “But now that has completely changed even at the recent UN Security Council meeting. The downstream countries have accepted that Ethiopia has the right over the water.”

Noting that Egypt and Sudan want to keep the previous treaties that had given them a lion’s share of the Nile water, he said, adding that  “this is  the magnificent  triumph to Ethiopia.”

“I think this is the biggest achievement of the Grand Renaissance Dam that has been ensuring Ethiopia the rightful country on Nile basin. Actually, Ethiopia is always a rightful riparian country. This has to be accepted by Sudan and Egypt as a determinant riparian country,” he pointed out.

Commenting on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) decision that encouraged the African Union-led negotiation, the chair lauded Ethiopia’s diplomatic victory.

“Since Ethiopia needs to protect its interest, the country presented its case very well. The presentation of Ethiopia in particular was convincing and clarified its position. As a result, Egypt and Sudan knew they were not going to get anything out of the Security Council,” he stated.

Acknowledging that Ethiopia is going through a very difficult time, the professor noted that  this time GERD is serving as a certain type of unifying factor across the country.

“This is pretty much clear that in Ethiopia, despite so many challenges, the Grand Renaissance Dam has been playing a huge role in consolidating the unity of citizens of the country in this difficult time,” he added.

As the African Union has been the best platform to facilitate the tripartite negotiation of GERD, Professor Swain urged negotiating parties to be open and engage in a genuine mediation for lasting solution.  

“Egypt and Sudan have to accept the reality that the negotiation will continue under the facilitation of the African Union. However, if the two countries go the other way, it will be a dangerous thing for everybody.”

Saying that this year is quite important as the second round filling of the Grand Renaissance Dam, the chair said, adding that it will create normalization in order to keep continuing the other five rounds of dam filling.