The European Commission and European Council have acknowledged the strategic significance of the Nile River and Ethiopia’s mega hydro-power under construction – the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to Ethiopia.
This is indicated in a letter Presidents of European Council and European Commission have written to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, according to FBC, a ruling party affiliated media report that used the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia as its source. The two presidents have indicated that they encourage discussions and negotiations among the major Nile Riparian countries, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to resolve the issue peacefully. They also expressed their interest to bring aboard international cross boundary water experts that can help the disputing countries reach agreement on the use of the Nile River and GERD.
Ethiopia and Egypt have been disputing about the water filling of GERD and the overall use of the Nile River since the launch of the project by Ethiopia nine years ago. Egypt has been claiming that GERD will reduce the historical water share it used to get from the Nile River. On the contrary, Ethiopia, from where about 85% of the water of the Nile is coming from, has vowed to start filling water the dam next July when the rainy season begins.
Ethiopian officials have been arguing that GERD is more than electricity and is a matter of survival in the face of fast growing population now surpassing 110 million and for the country whose over 60 percent population mainly in rural areas, is in now darkness and deprived of basic services such as health and the like.
To attain this and with the aim of exporting some of the energy from GERD to neighboring countries and help its economy, Ethiopia has been investing billions of dollars on the construction of the about $5 billion dam over the last nine years. Ethiopia also hopes to generate hard currency by exporting some of the energy from GERD to the neighboring countries. When completed GERD is anticipated to generate over 5,000 megawatts of electricity.
Angry with Ethiopia’s plan to commence filling of the dam next July, Egypt has been mobilizing international support from the Arab League, the United Nations and many multilateral and unilateral organizations.
European Union’s (EU’s) recognition of the significance of GERD for Ethiopia came after Egypt recently appeal the United Nations Security Council. Before the issue is escalated Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been negotiating on the construction of the dam since it was launched including the recently failed agreement in Washington.
While Egypt sticks to maintaining its historical right of using the water of the Blue Nile as per the 1959 agreement with Sudan to share the water between them ignoring the major source of the water, Ethiopia is also claiming its natural right to make use of the water, which is found within its boundary, for the benefit of its people currently living in extreme poverty.