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Enough is enough with the old colonial treaty cassettes

By Maru Ze Mekelle
Tigrai Online - June 20, 2013

Egypt has been the beneficiary of the River Nile for centuries. Though the Blue Nile which originates from the Ethiopian highlands contributes 85% of the Nile waters, Ethiopia was not the beneficiary of its water resources.

There are many different reasons for this financial, technical and geopolitics are the main once. The financial problem could have been solved by asking international financial institutions, but due to the 1929 and 1959 agreements made between Egypt and Sudan superimposed by the former colonial power of Great Britain. The colonial treaty gave 55.5 Billion cubic meters of water to Egypt and 18.5 Billion cubic meters to Sudan as their shares, Ethiopia which contributes 85% of the waters got zero shares.

Furthermore, the colonizer and the colonized countries, Egypt and Sudan didn’t consult Ethiopia about the agreements. Not only this, Egypt has been trying its best to influence the international  financial institutions, and the super powers not to give Ethiopia any loans for the construction of any dam for irrigation let alone to the hydroelectric power.

Knowing all these realities, our government has decided that constructing dams would help us get out of poverty. We, Ethiopians also have the right to utilize our natural resources to get out of poverty without harming any lower riparian countries. Any African country can do the same thing to help them provide a better life for their people.

Had it not been for poverty, we could have built so many dams along the Blue Nile a long time ago. Now that we are capable of financing by ourselves the biggest project, the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Ethiopians are determined to successfully complete it and reap the benefits for generations to come. How many Ethiopians or any citizens of the world know that Egypt has nine dams and Sudan has about six dams along the Nile River, whereas Ethiopia has only three, including the GERD which under construction.

The Egyptians and Sudanese didn’t consult Ethiopia when their 15 dams were constructed? They didn’t! Ethiopia on the other hand is bending backwards to accommodate every Egyptian needs. Egyptian leaders must understand that circumstances are changed in the upper riparian countries. There are so many false justifications for the Egyptian claims:

  1. The 1929 and 1959 agreements granted absolute control of the Nile water to Egypt
  2. It also recognizes the right of Egypt to supervise any activities in the entire basin and its historical rights in utilizing  the water of the Nile
  3. The agreement imposes legal obligations on the upper riparian countries to respect Egypt’s natural rights on the utilization on the Nile River.
  4. It does not produce direct or in direct legal consequences on Ethiopia

Despite the false claims, the fact remains Ethiopia had never been colonized by Great Britain or never been part of any British colonial territories.

In modern diplomacy, it is ridiculous to negotiate an old fashioned colonial agreement of the Nile River where upstream countries had not been given any chance of participation.

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Therefore, any agreement should be based on the principles of mutual cooperation and mutual benefit of the peoples of the upper riparian countries in general and the three countries, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in particular.

The only way out of poverty is respecting the rights of the people of Ethiopia and other signatories of the Nile Basin Initiative Framework Agreement that allows equity and fair distribution of the Nile waters among the upper and lower riparian countries.

The 1929 and1959 agreements should be replaced by a new pan African Agreement based on mutual benefit for the sources of the Nile waters and lower riparian countries. I would like to say enough is enough. No more chauvinism, No more destabilizing, stop playing the old cassettes of the colonial era agreements.

Start the New pan African Treaty which benefits all of the people of the Nile River valley countries! There is not any other alternative!


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