Let the mentality of “We prosper” rein in the Nile Basin
Abdirashid Dulane (Ambassador)
Time flies. It was three years ago this month when our late visionary Leader Meles Zenawi launched the construction of Africa’s largest Hydropower Dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by laying its foundation stone. The government and people of Ethiopia (both those living inside and in the Diaspora) are, at this celebratory occasion, seriously evaluating the sweet successes registered so far (32% of the total work executed) and are mulling over the enormity of the great task at hand. The colossal feat recorded with such a short time explicates the resilience and the indomitable spirit and psyche of a people who, although categorized as one of the poorest and still hampered and frustrated by the unjust and unyielding complexities of a world order that dissuades it from receiving the necessary financial support (either in grant or loans), are notwithstanding the odds determined to entirely complete the construction of GERD by own force. And they are not bluffing but are daringly proving it in action.
The broad support the construction of the Dam has garnered from all corners of our great Federation and our citizens living abroad, since its inception, has become yet another living witness that when the clarion call is made for a genuine and positive cause the nations, nationalities and peoples, where ever they are, will respond selflessly and in a manner that befits their colorful and chivalrous tens of centuries culture and history.
While almost all of the Nile riparian countries are in support of the construction of this great symbol of African Renaissance, the Government of Egypt is stubbornly continuing with the old, defunct and sarcastic notion of my way or the highway which has unfairly served it well for many centuries at the expense of the other riparian countries. In this era of globalization, where give and take is the pertinent norms of the game, this obdurate and destructive attitude is a nonstarter. With the recommendations made by the International Panel of Experts (IPoE), where its own designated representatives were present, overwhelmingly pointing to GERD’s significant contribution to Eastern Nile countries, Egypt is still unceremoniously hoodwinking international public opinion and that of its own people by distorting and keeping under wraps the myriad benefits of GERD.
Egypt has to understand that the predominant majority of the Nile riparian countries have forged a cooperative path that would lead them towards an equitable and reasonable utilization of the shared water resources of the Nile Basin. It has to recognize that consenting with the Cooperative Framework Agreement is the only way to basin-wide mutual benefit and prosperity. The time for monopoly and unilateralism, which had the hall mark of “I prosper, You wither” mentality with our shared resource, has become an archaic concept that can no longer be ingested by countries who are struggling hard to rapidly outpace poverty. Ethiopia, although contributing 86% the precious resource, has magnanimously believed and still believes (with most CFA endorsed members) that the mentality with our shared resource has to emphatically ring as “We proper” throughout the Nile basin.
It is my belief that if the Egyptian public was made more conversant, rather than constantly feeding it with concocted and unhelpful rhetoric intended mainly to play to the gallery and meant purely to suit their government’s local political theater, about the overriding win-win circumstances the eventual completion of the Great Renaissance Dam entails to Nile riparian countries, specially to Eastern Nile Countries, they would undoubtedly come out overwhelmingly for its support.
Adopting a sound and mutually rewarding economic decision, a good number of IGAD countries are already benefitting from Ethiopia’s current existing Power provision to their respective countries and the completion of the GERD would, besides rapidly increasing Ethiopia’s speedy economic growth by augmenting its power generation and consumption capacities, allow further expanded power supply cooperation between Ethiopia and individual IGAD member states to take root. This would unquestionably contribute to a greater win –win economic development of participating member countries and would foster closer economic integration among member states.
Since the citizens of member states are genuine beneficiaries from this direct and timely provision of this shared resource it would be right and proper for them to buy GERD bonds and contribute to the construction of a Dam that would deliver a lasting significance on their livelihood and overall development. A recent and not too distant telling example is the Sudanese citizens in Khartoum who eloquently described to a visiting Ethiopian TV reporter about the meaning and merits of the construction of GERD to its nation’s economic growth. They ended up voluntarily buying bonds. Similar instances where citizens of neighboring countries signed up to purchase bonds have not been uncommon.
In the interim, allow me to salute the commitment of the government and the millions of people living inside and in the Diaspora for translating their can-do attitude to real action by mobilizing millions of dollars for the construction of GERD. Special appreciation and respect is due to the many professionals, laborers and other staff, who are toiling day and night, without complaining for a second about the harsh climate and unshaken by the enormous burden and pressure that the construction of this gigantic Dam demands. Indeed these great sons and daughters of our rapidly transforming country have reserved a golden page in the evolving narrative of our New Ethiopia.
Finally, let’s remind ourselves that more and consistent effort is required by the government, respective national and local coordination committees and by each and every one of us, living internally and in the Diaspora, to skillfully sail around the numerous challenges before us including financial, technical, diplomatic, etc… to decisively realize the orderly and timely completion of this remarkable engineering marvel which will greatly advance our steadfast and unwavering endeavor to build an industry-led economy that would audaciously make poverty history.
To conclude, let me borrow Orison Swett Marden’s famous words befitting the can-do, Yichalal, mentality that has led to courageously shoulder the epic task of constructing the GERD in its entirety by own force: All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible. With those inspiring words let’s all rise and grab this historic opportunity by playing our respective roles in assuring the fulfillment of another major milestone in our country’s Renaissance, which undoubtedly would also have a major impact in changing the lives of millions of our African brothers and sisters.
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