Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wake-up Call:A Smart Partnership with Ethiopia Is Now Vital -Sudan Vision

Omer Bakri Abu Haraz

Email: oba@haggar-cec.com
Date: 29/09/2014

It is known in the sciences of politics and tactics in civil or military activities that the intelligence and skill lay on the timely pre-emptive moves. I mentioned this in my previous article when I asked our government to pre-empt the malicious division plan of our beloved Sudan into five weak states. I asked for going back to govern Sudan in its old historic large regions in an ideal federal system that guarantees the fair and equitable share of power, wealth, development and services. Each region has to enjoy utilizing its natural resources, and adequately contributing in the cost of central governance, national army and national security in a way similar to America.

I also pointed out in that article to a smooth, calm and dangerous plot flowing in the direction of the division plan. This is coming through the water gates of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Our stand from the beginning till now is the backing and supporting the Ethiopian government in the construction of the dam.

On the contrary the Egyptians stood steadfastly against the project on the grounds that the dam design is unsafe and it reduces the annual quota of Egypt of the Rive Nile Water (55.5 billion cubic meters). Sudan's annual quota is 18.5 cubic meters.

This Egyptian firm stand dramatically changed in the last few days. On 17/09/2014 the Egyptian senior expert of water resources and irrigation, Dr. Magawri Shahata said that Egypt will now enter the negotiations with Ethiopia in a spirit of cooperation to reach an amicable agreement, pointing out that the atmosphere of negotiations are today different than before. Dr Hassan El Maghazi, Egyptian Minister of Irrigation said that a new stage of rebuilding confidence between Egypt and Ethiopia has started from the first week of September 2014.

This new strategic stand of Egypt will make Sudan and Egypt equidistant from Ethiopia; whereas the distance between Sudan and Egypt is increasingly widening because of the territorial conflict of Halayeb and because the ideological and political differences between the two regimes. So we are now having an unequal sided triangle. Two equal sides between Sudan and Ethiopia, Egypt and Ethiopian and larger sides between Sudan and Egypt. Forming an equilateral triangle is the best and ideal. Under the prevailing circumstances between Sudan and Egypt – political and territorial – the distance is too big to be shortened son to create an equilateral triangle. Considering this is a pragmatic approach the best thing will be to keep the distance as it is and away from increasing; by tolerance, calmness and refraining from interference in all aspects.

At the same time we need to shorten the distance with Ethiopia to make sorest side of the triangle between Sudan and Ethiopian. This is for the following reasons:

1. Our common borders with Ethiopia is 969 kilometers and S. Sudan – Ethiopia border is 934 kilometers i.e. total length of the two Sudan's with Ethiopia is 1703 kilometers. Sudan-Egypt border is 1275 kilometers less by about 500 kilometers. Considering this, the borders with Ethiopia to Sudan are very sensitive. Historically all military insurgencies against Sudan used Ethiopia as safe haven and launch pad – Joseph Lagu, Ananya Movement (1962 - 1972), Dr. John Garang – SPLM/A (1983 -   2005). Both diverged and spread from Ethiopia causing radical changes in the governance of Sudan. The first  one – Lagu Movement – led to the downfall of Aboud military regime (1958   -  1964) as  October 1964 revolution ignited by the shooting of a student  in the University of Khartoum hostels when the police used life ammunition to disperse a rally about the war in South Sudan  on 21/10/1964. The second – Garang SPLM/A led to the secession of South Sudan on July 2011 after more than twenty years of  death, destruction and attrition of dear resources.

2. The historic good relations with Ethiopian since the reign of Emperor Haile Sellassie (1930 – 1974) and the first years of the communist reign of Mangestu (1974 - 1991) when May regime started as leftist. This was followed by a full support of May 1969 regime under Nimerie to Meles Zenawi movement that ousted Mangestu in 1991. Since 1991 till the death of Zenawi on 20/8/201 the Sudan Salvation Regime continued and maintained the good relations with Ethiopia. After the allegation of Ethiopian and Egyptians against Sudan of an attempt to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995 in Addis, the relations between the countries became tense for a short period, lukewarm for a longer period and back to normal since 2000 till now. This alone enhances my argument of the sensitivity of our relations with Ethiopia.

3. The special and unique similarity in the social, racial and cultural aspects between the people in the two nations.

4. The eternal life line between the two countries – The Blue Nile with its longest part running in Sudan.

5. The growing need and demand of Sudan to the cheap and environmentally friendly electrical energy. Ethiopia is called the Water Tower. It has a potential of generating 45 thousand megawatts. It is worth mentioning that the Long Term Power Plan of Sudan set by a recognized European Consultancy House in 2007, states that the expected power demand of Sudan as: 2015 demand 5000 MW, 2020 demand 9000 MW,  2025 demand 12000 MW and 2030 demand 15000 ME. The total power generated now in Sudan is 4510 MW, 44% of it Hydro and 56% Thermal. This means that we need after 5 years i.e. 2020 about 5000 MW to meet the projected demand and this will cost US$4.5 billion. The pre-emptive move mostly and critically needed today is to go with Ethiopia in a smart partnership in the completion of the Renaissance Dam.   There is still a needy room for this as till now there is a financial gap, the Ethiopian government is struggling to bridge. By this smart partnership we will kill two birds with one stone – We will achieve the objective of meeting our forecst demand of power as parents and not clients. Secondly will strengthen the relation with Ethiopia and create the shorter side of the triangle of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. This will be the second life line with Ethiopia – water and electricity life lines.

I feel very much obliged to point out that I called for this smart partnership in articles published in Al-Ayam, Akhir Lahza, and Sudan Vision daily papers on June 2011.

I followed this article after 3 months in September 2011 in Sudan Vision under a title (What a Coincidence), following the statement of Meles Zenawi in his visit to Sudan on September 2011. His statement which appeared on Akhir Lahza Arabic daily issue 1832 dated 19/9/2011,

Quote: "I was expecting Sudan to contribute 30% of the Dam cost as a partner because Sudan will be the great beneficiary of the Dam which will generate 6000 MW and it will be 40 Km from Sudan border and all adverse side effects will be on the Ethiopian side." Unquote.

In my articles of June 2011 I proposed 25% share by Sudan government and Sudanese businessmen.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Renaissance Dam will regulate the flow of the Blue Nile through its reservoir of 63 billion cubic meters. (Egyptian High Dam reservoir is 100 billion, Meroe 15 billion – renaissance power 6000 MW, high Dam 2100 MW  and Meroe 1250 MW.) The Renaissance Dam will also lengthen the lifetime of all dams after it by filtering the heavy masses of stone, trees, animals, and silt before hitting the walls of the downstream dams. All this plus the contribution of this smart partnership in reducing the risk of tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia at the likelihood of the emergence of remote, isolated and sporadic incidents.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia agree on committee for Nile dam - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

 The Water ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have signed an agreement to form the committee of national experts on the Ethiopian renaissance dam at the end of their fifth round of talks in Addis Ababa.
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An Egyptian farmer stands by his cow as it takes a drink from the Nile. Egypt fears a massive Ethiopian dam project will ultimately diminish its historic water rights (Photo: Reuters)
Last month, a trilateral committee comprised of the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers convened in Khartoum where they agreed to form a follow-up committee consisting of water experts from the three countries to discuss the impact of the Ethiopian dam project.
The water ministers’ meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday discussed the outcome of the meetings of national experts on future work besides selection of an international consultation firm.
The national experts committee, which is comprised of four experts from each country, will select international experts to work with to conduct two studies on a hydrological simulation model and a trans-boundary economic, social and environmental impact assessment.
The committee has been given a six-month deadline starting September to come up with a timeframe to carry out the reports.
The Egyptian water minister, Hussam Maghazi, said in press statements following the meeting that technical issues such as capacity of the dam and time needed to fill up its reservoir will be decided by the international consultants.
“We are conducting lateral contacts and making efforts [to ensure] that Egypt’s water share will not be impacted [by the dam]”, he added
He said each of the three countries will nominate 10 international consultants within ten days; pointing nominations will be discussed in the next round of talks in Cairo between 20 and 21 October in order to select the consultant by consensus.
The $6.4-billion dam is being built on the upper reaches of the Nile River, Egypt’s primary water source.
The project, which Ethiopia says is necessary for its national development plans, has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all of its water needs.
Ethiopia insists the project will not impact Egypt’s traditional share of Nile water which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never recognized.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ethiopia, Egypt ink deal on Nile dam committee | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Ethiopia, Egypt ink deal on Nile dam committee

Ethiopia is building a $6.4-billion hydroelectric dam on the upper reaches of the Nile River – Egypt's primary water source.

World Bulletin / News Desk
Water ministers from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Monday signed an agreement to form a tripartite technical committee tasked with studying Ethiopia's mega-dam, currently being built on the Nile's upper reaches.
At a Monday meeting, the three ministers agreed to the terms of reference and procedures regulating the work of a tripartite Technical National Committee (TNC) – to include four experts from each of the three countries – to prepare studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.
They also agreed that the upcoming tripartite meeting should be held in Cairo on October 20 and 21.
Ethiopia is building a $6.4-billion hydroelectric dam on the upper reaches of the Nile River – Egypt's primary water source.
The project – which Ethiopia says is necessary for its national development plans – has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all of its water needs.
Ethiopia insists the project won't impact Egypt's traditional share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never recognized.
Last month, a trilateral committee – comprised of the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers – convened in Khartoum, where they agreed to form a follow-up committee comprised of water experts from the three countries to discuss the impact of the Ethiopian dam project.
The two studies to be conducted involve a hydrological simulation model and an environmental, social and economic impact assessment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan tripartite talks end with agreements - Daily News Egypt

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to conduct studies on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under a six-month deadline, after two days of “honest consultations” in Sudan.
The talks were headed by the water ministers of the three countries, who agreed to use one or more international consulting companies to conduct the two studies, recommended in an international report. Egypt’s Water and Irrigation Minister Hossam El-Din Moghazy was cited by state-run MENA as saying Egypt’s acceptance of the dam depends on the results of the studies and that the results are binding to all parties.
The trio held talks in Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday and Tuesday, after which they announced the results in a joint statement.
Former Director of the Arab and African Research Centre in Cairo, Helmy El-Shaarawy said what can be understood from the results of the talks is that “Egypt is dealing with the dam as a matter of fact,” and that its construction cannot be stopped.
He believes that given this, political intentions and indications – such as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s announcement that he is willing to visit Ethiopia up to three times to resolve issues – matter more than economic or technical indications.
The GERD, which is currently under construction, has been the cause for much tension between Egypt and Ethiopia because Egypt fears that the dam will have a detrimental effect on its share of Nile water. However, El-Shaarawy said that these fears are fueled by the media to a certain extent, since Egypt has a capacity to store large amounts water and “Ethiopia knows that”.
Since 2013, the three countries had been in disagreement over how to implement the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE), released in a report in 2013. The report recommended conducting the two studies to assess the effects of GERD on downstream countries Egypt and Sudan, including the environmental and socioeconomic impacts.
The trio also agreed in Khartoum to form a committee made up of four national experts from each of the three countries. There had been disagreements on the formation of the expert panel that will oversee the building of the dam, since Egypt wanted representatives from Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa only, while the latter two wanted the committee to include international experts as well.
The talks in Khartoum are the fourth such talks. The last round of tripartite talks was held in January but ended without reaching an agreement. It was preceded by tripartite talks in November and December of last year, but these also failed.
Egypt and Ethiopia have been locked in a diplomatic dispute over GERD, since Egypt fears that the dam will affect its share of Nile water.
Downstream countries Egypt and Sudan together receive the majority of Nile water. As per agreements signed in 1929 and 1959, Egypt annually receives 55.5bn cubic metres of the estimated total 84bn cubic metres of Nile water produced each year and Sudan receives 18.5bn cubic metres.
However, the two water sharing agreements, which guarantee Egypt the lion’s share of water, were signed in the absence of Ethiopia.
Al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn met in June and the two countries later announced a joint committee to streamline discussions on GERD. Both nations hailed the agreement as a “new chapter in relations between Egypt and Ethiopia… based on openness and mutual understanding and cooperation”.

Monday, September 22, 2014

South Sudan peace talks resume in Ethiopia - Middle East Online

Stop-start peace talks are being held in Bahir Dar after accusations peace delegates run huge bills in luxury hotels in Addis Ababa.
Middle East Online
Back to Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA - Talks aimed at ending South Sudan's civil war resumed in Ethiopia on Monday, mediators said, as sporadic fighting continued to rage between rebel and government fighters in the oil-rich country.
The talks have been on hold since late August, when President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a new ceasefire deal -- the fourth since fighting began nine months ago -- and forge a unity government by October 9.
On Saturday east Africa's regional IGAD bloc, which has been mediating the talks, denounced ongoing "senseless fighting" in South Sudan and complained that hostilities appeared to flare each time talks were on the verge of resuming.
The talks are now being held in the northwestern Ethiopian town of Bahir Dar, having been shifted away from the capital Addis Ababa -- where peace delegates have been accused of running up huge bills in luxury hotels and not being serious about peace.
According to European diplomats, the talks have so far cost close to 20 million euros.
Taking part are delegations from the government, rebels, political parties and civil society groups, who are supposed to be discussing the formation of a 'Transitional Government of National Unity'.
"What is very important now is the issue of the president and the prime minister. We shall discuss the issues of appointment and powers of the prime minister. If that is agreed, that will be a step forward," said Taban Deng, a former governor of Unity State who now leads the opposition delegation.
The government meanwhile accused the rebels of systematic ceasefire violations.
"We are expecting the mediation and the rebels and all the other stakeholders to respect and abide by the protocol and the rebels to commit to the matrix so that a cessation of hostilities is operationalised," said South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei, a member of the government delegation.
Fighting broke out in the world's youngest nation in December 2013 following a clash between Kiir's troops and fighters loyal to Machar. The war spread rapidly across the country and has been marked by widespread human rights abuses and atrocities by both sides.
Previous ceasefire agreements have all been broken, and efforts to form a unity government have so far failed.
As the power struggle between Kiir and Machar continues, the United Nations has said that the country's food crisis is the "worst in the world" and aid workers have warned of the risk of famine.
Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.8 million have fled.

Ethiopia hosts meeting on Nile dam amid hope Worldbulletin News

Ethiopia hosts meeting on Nile dam amid hope

Ethiopia's representative in the meeting, Gedion Assefa, said his country firmly believed that the current row with Egypt over the dam could be resolved through dialogue

World Bulletin/News Desk
A technical committee on Saturday convened in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss the way ahead for cooperation between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on a multibillion hydroelectric dam now being constructed by Ethiopia on the Nile river.
The committee contains representatives from the three states, being formed by them during a previous meeting in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in August.
Ethiopia's representative in the meeting, Gedion Assefa, said his country firmly believed that the current row with Egypt over the dam could be resolved through dialogue.
"I personally do not think any disagreement would emanate from this meeting," Assefa told Anadolu Agency.
He said the two-day meeting in the Ethiopian capital is the result of a tripartite ministerial meeting that was held in Sudan last month.
Assefa added that over the two days of the meeting, the representatives of the three countries would agree on a number of issues, including the terms of reference and rules of procedures and ways of selecting an international consultancy firm that would conduct two studies in the light of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts.
"We will then submit the document for approval by the ministers of the three countries on Monday," Assefa said.
He added that the meeting was first proposed by Ethiopia, noting that it aimed to prepare for the implementation of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts.
Assefa added that the International Panel of Experts had recommended that studies should be conducted on the trans-boundary economic, social and environmental impacts of the dam. He added that the panel also recommended conducting a hydrological simulation model.
The Ethiopian representative noted that talks during the two-day meeting would not dwell on a dam that would be constructed by Ethiopia across the Geba River.
"We are not willing to raise that issue," Assefa said. "We will not be discussing it; it is not on our agenda," he added.
He said Geba hydropower project is an old one.
"Now that we have got financing for the project, we are taking it off the ground," the Ethiopia official said. "There is no relation whatsoever between the two dams," he added.
Sudan's representative at the meeting, meanwhile, said the event would focus on implementing future works.
"It will be forward looking," Seifedin Hamad Abdalla told AA. "It will be on preliminary activities that would lead to the actual implementation of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts," he added.
He added that meeting representatives would also be discussing how to hire the international consultant firm as agreed during the Khartoum tripartite meeting on August 25 and 26.
"This meeting is very important," Abdalla said. "As I look at things around, the atmosphere is fine," he added.
He said there is good spirit on all sides, expecting the event to end in a "happy" note.
Abdalla said holding the meeting in Addis Ababa, instead of Khartoum, would make matters easier.
He said the location of the meeting would give meeting representatives easy access to those who are on the project and that it would be easy for them to access information if and when they needed it.
"Many of the relevant experts are in Ethiopia," Abdalla said. "But all the issues that fall outside technical matters can be discussed in either Khartoum or Cairo," he added.
"All in all, the recent developments point at more amicable relations and cooperation among the three riparian countries," Abdalla said. "The resource should further catalyze our cooperation," he added.
Ethiopia's plan to build the dam, called the Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia says is necessary for its national development plans, has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all of its water needs.
Ethiopia insists the project won't impact Egypt's traditional share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never recognized.
Last month, a trilateral committee – comprised of the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers – convened in Khartoum where they agreed to form a follow-up committee comprised of water experts from the three countries to discuss the impact of the Ethiopian dam project.
Ties between Ethiopia and Egypt
Ethiopia's ambassador to Egypt, Mohamoud Dirir, who is currently in Addis Ababa to attend the meeting, talked to Anadolu Agency about Ethiopian-Egyptian relations and the dam, which has in recent years caused tension in the relations of the two states.
He said "The relation between Ethiopia and Egypt is improving following the meeting of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi", and "the rejoining of Egypt to the tripartite dialogue of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt resulted from the talks."
He made the following statement:
"At present, Egypt has returned to direct talks and cooperation. The three countries have continued the talks as per their agreement before Egypt walked out of the dialogue.
The previous committee consisted of a total of ten experts,  four of them are international experts while the remaining six drawn from the three countries.
The visit of Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation,  Hossam al-Moghazi, to Ethiopia and also to the GERD site is considered a positive step forward. The Minister will be able to have firsthand information and be aware of the real situation. On our side, there is nothing hidden. Everything is open.
What I want to reassure is that our policy is not intended to harm Egypt.
Today, Ethiopia is hosting the tripartite technical committee meeting. The 12-member national experts’ committee will put in place working procedures. The members will select international experts who will work with them to conduct two studies on a hydrological simulation model and a trans-boundary economic, social and environmental impact assessment.
Ethiopia welcomes the delegations of Egypt and Sudan.
The Sudanese position with regard to the GERD is clear. They have understood the objective behind the construction of the GERD, which is considered the national project of Ethiopians, and also the position and the interest of the Ethiopian people. They are aware that the Ethiopian people will complete the construction of the dam as they have launched it.  We believe that the time will not be far for Egypt to understand this.
There is no one interested in harming Egypt. The three countries: Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, need to undertake many projects in collaboration to benefit the peoples of their respective countries.
The Construction of the Dam is funded by China. It is a small-size dam, with a capacity to generate 371 megawatts of electric power. The Dam has no impact on Egypt at all.
It is useful for Ethiopia's irrigation development along with power generation."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Egyptian President is committed to “excellent” relations

A Defense and National security news.In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Desalegn said that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is committed to relations between Egypt and Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that Ethiopia is seeking a “win-win” relation with Egypt, saying that his country was seeking good relations with Cairo.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister also praised “excellent” relations between Ethiopia and Turkey, saying that relations between the two countries have been gathering momentum.
The Ethiopian Premier also addressed several issues during the interview, including the activities of the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab and South Sudan’s peace talks.
Anadolu Agency: Your Excellency Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, what does the elimination of Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane mean to Somalia and the region?
Prime Minister: I feel that, you know, terrorism is a global problem. And therefore, the death of the leader of Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, means a lot to Somalia, to the neighboring countries as well.
It is simply because this man was instrumental in destabilizing and terrorizing the Somali people as well as the neighboring countries. So now there is a chance for the Somali people to get peace and tranquility in Somalia and establish a strong Somali state, which can co-exist with its neighbors in a peaceful, friendly and neighborly manner, so that we can cooperate together having a very strong Somalia as a country.
So this is very important for the Somali people at first and then to the region also – and to the continent and to the global community. So we see it as a strong achievement.

AA: Can this be taken as the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab in Somalia? How confident are you that Somalia constitutes a functioning state?
PM: First of all, this shows the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab becomes the weakest organization. And, besides, the Somali people will get a chance to liberate from the yoke of Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab has forced the Somali people to stay under the yoke. This is a chance for the people of Somalia to be free from Al-Shabaab. The Somali people will institute a functioning state from now onwards.
You know there is a plan in 2016 that the Somali people have to elect their own leaders. In order for this election to take place, the weakening or elimination of Al-Shabaab is important so that the people of Somalia will get a chance to elect their own leaders.
We will support strengthening of institutions of the government of Somalia. So I think this is the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab influence in Somalia.

AA: Regarding South Sudan, the country’s warring parties are currently in negotiations that have proven to be very slow. What is the fundamental issue that is slowing them down?
PM: First of all, the process of the negotiations is slow. But the region, IGAD and member states have tried their best to bring this negotiation to an end as quickly as possible so that there will be peace and tranquility in South Sudan.
But we still have hope that the leaders will have commitment, strong commitment. What is lacking now is strong commitment from the leaders’ side, and especially from the leader of the opposition party.
We see that there is a lack of commitment. So I think that is an important issue to be addressed, because the people of South Sudan need peace and tranquility and they need stability. They need a good livelihood; they have been suffering for the last many, many years, and now the war has to stop.
And with that belief, we still urge the parties to the negotiation to complete the negotiation as quickly as possible.

AA: Do you see light at the end of the tunnel? I mean, could this problem in South Sudan be resolved any time soon?
PM:I think there is hope that this problem will be resolved as quickly as possible. But that needs strong commitment from both leaders – specifically, the rebels, because they are the ones who have not signed the recent protocol agreement.

AAEthiopia and Egypt are enjoying diplomatic rapprochement, which climaxed with the Malabo meeting in Equatorial Guinea between you and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. How are relations now?
PM: First of all, the relationship between Ethiopia and Egypt is a longstanding relation. We want to continue building on our good relations.
There has been, you know, misbehaving practices in previous regimes, like the Mubarak regime, the Morsi regime. They were, you know, trying to destabilize Ethiopia using rebel groups that are supported and nurtured by Eritrea.
And I think that was a failure. These leaders were wrong, because that harms the good relationship between Ethiopia and Egypt. But they failed. They could not succeed in their will to destabilize Ethiopiathrough various means.
Any government who tries to destabilize Ethiopia in a proxy, from a distance, they will fail – like Mubarak and Morsi failed.
Currently, in my discussion with al-Sisi, he is committed to relations between Ethiopia andEgypt. I myself am very much committed to having good relations. We have ….to have win win-win from the common resource, the Blue Nile River.
That common resource is common to all of us. Ethiopia has to benefit, and Egypt also has to benefit. I think we have no reason to harm Egypt and Egypt has no reason to deny our right to development.

AA: You accuse Eritrea of being the regional black sheep, although Egypt maintains good relations with Eritrea; the Eritrean president recently visited Cairo. What do you say to this?
PM: As far as the relationship between Egypt and Eritrea is concerned, they are two independent countries and they can have a relationship. The only thing we would not allow and feel that should not happen is ifEgypt nurtured rebel groups in Eritrea to destabilize the region.
That kind of approach would be futile. As far as countries’ relations are concerned, it is up to countries to have relations. For instance… Sudan is a friend to Eritrea and also toEthiopia. We do not panic when countries have relations with each other.
The thing we do not help useful is supporting to destabilize. This is our principle and we will stick to this principle. Any country that wants to destabilize another country will be by itself a process or an action which is unlawful. We do not support this kind of action andEthiopia is always ready to have a strong Egypt, even a strong Eritrea, which lives with its neighbors in a peaceful manner…
Because people live, but regimes might go. So our focus is to have friendly, neighborly relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The thing is, now the regime led by President Isaias Afwerki is a regime which is destabilizing the region.
Look what is happening now with Djibouti. They are still continuing to destabilize Djibouti. And Djibouti has appealed to regional organizations, the Arab League and many other international bodies. You can see how destabilizing Eritrea has been to the region.
So they are continuing to wreak havoc. Egypt should understand that this [Eritrean] regime is a destabilizing regime.

AA: Eritrea says Ethiopia has been plotting a change of government in Asmara and that your government is collaborating with Djibouti and the U.S. to this end.
PM: This is baseless. As you know, Eritrea has always been supporting terrorist and extremist elements in the region with the aim of destabilizing the region. It is true that Djibouti is a strategic partner and ally ofEthiopia.

AA: Eritrea and Ethiopia are in a no-war, no-peace situation, while Eritrea is also engaged in destabilizing and harassing Djibouti, which is of course a strategic neighbor of Ethiopia.
PM: First of all, we in the region as IGAD [the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, an East African regional bloc] countries, we have appealed to the international community that Eritrea is destabilizing the region, destabilizing Ethiopia, destabilizing Djibouti, working with Al-Shabaab to destabilize Ethiopia through Somalia and destabilizing Somalia by supporting Al-Shabaab…
We have the right to go to the international community, the UNSC, and the UNSC has passed a strong resolution on sanctioning Eritrea.
I think the international community has to understand this regime has not changed its policy of destabilizing the region.
This is what we have done and we will push it forward. Similarly, we, as close friends to Djibouti, Ethiopia is ready to support Djibouti in any way that helps the stabilization of the region.
So I think we are very close to Djibouti, and our relations – economic, political and people-to-people – is strong… we see that we are supporting each other and continue to support. That is very clear.

AA: Ethio-Turkish bilateral relations are at their highest level. What contributed to these excellent relations? Former Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has become prime minister. Do you think his leadership will contribute to enhancing Turkish, Africa and Ethio-Turkish relations?
PM: First of all, these are the leaders who have been working very hard to strengthen and foster the relationship between Africa and Turkey, and specifically Ethiopia and turkey…
These are the leaders who made the relationship to be strong. I have been working with all my capacity… Earlier as foreign minister and deputy prime minister… Ahmet Davutoglu, now he is the prime minister and we work very closely to nurture the already excellent relations between Turkey and Ethiopia.
Similarly, the former prime minister who now becomes the president was the one who spearheaded the work of consolidating the relations between our two countries. And that is why our president was there to attend the [Turkish] inauguration ceremony… to deepen our relations.
We know that Turkey wants to make us the headquarters of its relations with Africa… So we will be supporting this initiative. Your existence, the regional [Anadolu Agency] bureau, is also testimony to the fact that relations between Ethiopia and Turkey have been gathering momentum.

AA: What kind of progress has been made in terms of construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?
PM: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a dam of great economic significance… It is so not only for Ethiopia, but also for other countries – Sudan, Egypt and other African countries as well.
The power to be produced is a renewable power; it is a green energy, and you knowEthiopia is working very hard to have climate resilient green growth strategy…
Therefore, we feel this dam is very useful to all of us. And the construction of the dam has reached something like 40 percent, and we will continue as per plan. And early [electricity] generation will begin sometime soon.
And Ethiopia is to get some power from the dam. I think this is one of the plans we are working on… We do not face major challenges as far as we are concerned. But the process of engaging downstream riparian countries, Sudan and Egypt, has already been started.
We will continue working with them because we feel that this dam is common and beneficial to all of us. With that spirit, I think we can settle the issue of the downstream impact of the dam when it is completed, so I think I do not see major challenge at this time.

AA: Some say the dam could halt the flow of the river.
PM: For that matter, this is a natural flow. A natural flow of river cannot be stopped. I think this is baseless, unscientific fear… This is a river which always flows. You cannot stop it at all…
We will have some time for filling the dam without stopping the water. We will see how we can scientifically fill the dam. Once the dam gets full, how can you stop the river flowing? The water goes through the turbine and back to its course.
It is not possible to stop the natural course of the river. Therefore, it is baseless fear on the side of the Egyptian people because the politicians and their media were giving them the wrong message. Therefore, we should avoid this by telling them the facts on the ground.
Leaders of both countries are working to achieve the best interest of the people of their respective countries. Ethiopia’s position is a win-win strategy for all. It works to ensure the benefits of all parties.

AA: Do you think relations between Ethiopia and Egypt will have an impact on Ethiopia-Sudan relations?
PM: The relation between Ethiopia and Egypt will never impact our relations with Sudan, which is Ethiopia’s real partner. Sudan is playing a positive role, not only between Ethiopiaand Egypt, but also among the three countries.
Ethiopia has strategic relations with Sudan. We have bilateral relations and cooperation agreements with Sudan. Ethiopia is striving towards a balanced relation with Sudan andEgypt as well.

AA: A lot is being said concerning your meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. What is expected from your next meeting with the president?
PM: We will meet in the near future.  Both of us have given directives to our respective pertinent bodies so that they work together.

AA: Ethiopians are about to take part in national elections. What preparations are being made to ensure the integrity of the polls? What’s your general assessment of multi-party democracy in Ethiopia?
PM: We want to send a message to the international community and to all parties who are involved with us in this process that democracy for Ethiopia is not just a choice. Democracy for Ethiopia is an existential matter.
Without democracy in Ethiopia, we cannot have a peaceful and strong Ethiopia. So we need democracy as an existential matter. First, we are multi-ethnic, and in order to accommodate the interests of all, we need a democratic process. Without it, it will be chaos.
Number two: we are multi-religious. The major religions of the world – Christianity and Islam – have been coexisting in Ethiopia. They will continue to co-exist if we are democratic.
Our constitution gives the right for all religions to be equal, and in that sense I think we should have a democratic country and a democratic system.
Thirdly, this is a country with a young population – 80 percent of the people are below 30 years of age. Young people, you know, are dynamic. If you lead them in a democratic way, they are assets for development.
If there is no democracy, then, they become threats. You know there are a number of revolutions taking place in the world by young people because those systems are not democratic…
Our neighborhood is very fragile. If our neighborhood is fragile, we should have a democratic system at home to resist the fragility.
Fifth, it is a global process – you cannot have an undemocratic system to co-exist with the global community… That shows you that we have ample reason to become a democratic country; without democracy, you cannot sustain life as well as the system in the country.
So for that reason, we need to have a democratic system. Therefore, elections are one of the manifestations of democracy… One of the pillars of democracy is elections, so we should have fair, free and just elections and also democratic elections.
We have to abide by this and abide by the law of the land, which is the constitution.
You know elections are something you do it at home and we have opposition parties at home. And you need to be registered to become an opposition party member. We have more than 90 opposition parties registered legally and they are eligible to take part in the elections.
But those rebel groups that take up arms, they do not need elections because they choose to get what they want through armed means.  The way you treat legally registered parties, so those that opt for illegal means to change government, so the government will have a right to defend itself militarily, not democratically.
We do not know an opposition party member who has been registered in the country and residing abroad. If anyone wishes for any kind of democratic process, they should come back home, register legally, get the license to become a legally registered party and they can proceed to contest [elections].

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chinese firms to build $583mn dam in Ethiopia | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Chinese firms to build $583mn dam in Ethiopia

The multi-purpose dam, to be built by two Chinese companies and a local firm, will be capable of generating 381 megawatts of electricity.

World Bulletin / News Desk
Two Chinese companies have signed a contract with the Ethiopian government to build a dam on the Geba tributary of the Baro Akobo river basin in southwestern Ethiopia.
"The $583 million cost of the dam will be covered by a loan from the Chinese government," Bezuneh Tolcha, head of public relations at the Ethiopian Water Ministry, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
He said the multi-purpose dam, to be built by two Chinese companies and a local firm, will be capable of generating 381 megawatts of electricity.
"Construction of the dam will start immediately and will be finalized within four years," Tolcha said, adding that retained water would be used to irrigate some 480,000 hectares of land in the river basin.
The local firm, Sur Construction, will contribute 25 percent of the dam's construction costs.
Ethiopia plans to build a number of dams for electricity generation, including a controversial hydroelectric dam on the upper reaches of the Nile River, which has strained relations with downstream Egypt.
Ethiopia says it needs the dam to generate badly-needed energy. Egypt, for its part, fears the dam will reduce its traditional share of Nile water.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moves to contain waterfears Egypt Al-Ahram Weekly

Confidence-building measures are key to resolving the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam, writes Doaa El-Bey
Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Moghazi has been invited by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to visit Addis Ababa and the Renaissance Dam construction site this month.

The fourth tripartite meeting, held in Khartoum last month, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri’s visit to Addis Ababa last week and Moghazi’s trip are part of ongoing confidence-building measures between Addis Ababa and Cairo.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi met with Desalegn in June, and is expected to do so again on the fringes of this month’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

As diplomatic efforts to contain the political fall-out from the dam project continue, hammering out technical problems is being left to the consulting companies and the committee of experts formed following the fourth tripartite meeting.

“The ongoing negotiations do not mean Cairo agrees to the dam going ahead without changes to its design,” stresses Maghawri Shehata, a professor of hydrogeology and water resources. “There are very sharp differences that will be addressed when the consulting companies finish their work.”

Helmi Sharawy, a former director of the Arab and African Research Centre in Cairo, sees the recent flurry of diplomatic activity as a positive sign.

“Differences are likely to arise because Addis Ababa is basically keen to build the dam without any changes to its design and Cairo is strongly pushing for changes that will minimise its downstream impact. What has emerged recently, however, is a will on both sides to forge an acceptable compromise,” Sharawy told Al-Ahram Weekly.

In the fourth round of talks held last month in Khartoum, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed that a six-month period was necessary to thoroughly assess the impact of the dam. The talks, headed by the water ministers of the three countries, resulted in an agreement to hire international experts to review the studies of the consulting companies and to form a committee of 12 experts, three from each country, to review their findings.

The outcome of the meeting, says Shehata, was extremely positive: it will allow Egyptian experts to take part in any impact assessments of the dam and puts in place a mechanism whereby the finding of the consulting companies will be subject to rigorous review.

“One outstanding issue is whether the final reports will be binding on Ethiopia or not. Egypt has said they will be but Addis Ababa has remained silent on the issue,” Shehata said.

The third round of tripartite talks, held in January, ended without an agreement being reached. The first and second rounds, held in November and December 2013, failed even to identify the points that needed to be further discussed.

The fourth round followed the meeting between Al-Sisi and Desalegn on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Malabo, the capital of Guinea Bissau, in June. Al-Sisi said he had received commitments from Desalegn that the dam would have no negative impact on Egypt’s share of water during its construction and subsequent operation.

Following the meeting, Egypt and Ethiopia announced that a joint committee would be established to streamline negotiations. Ethiopia acknowledged the central importance of the Nile to Egypt, Egypt acknowledged Ethiopia’s right to pursue development projects, and both parties committed themselves to the principles enshrined in international law.

Egypt, says Sharawy, should also pursue the possibility of integrated development projects with Ethiopia and with other Nile basin countries. He points out that Congo has not yet signed the Entebbe Agreement, and that Sudan’s position on the dam appears to be shifting.

Ethiopia is the source of 85 per cent of the Nile’s water. Egypt has repeatedly expressed its concern that the $4.6 billion dam project, which Ethiopia intends to build on the Blue Nile, could diminish the river’s flow. Ethiopia insists that the project will not reduce the amount of water that flows to Egypt.

A 1959 agreement gives Egypt and Sudan the lion’s share of Nile water — 55.5 billion cubic metres and 18 billion cubic metres respectively — and the right to veto any projects built along the river.

Ethiopia, together with other Nile Basin states, is seeking to replace the 1959 agreement with the Entebbe Agreement, which Addis Ababa claims provides for a fairer distribution of water. Cairo and Khartoum have both refused to sign the Entebbe Agreement. South Sudan signed in April 2013, leaving Congo as the only upstream country that has yet to sign.

A tripartite technical committee, including Egyptian, Ethiopian, Sudanese and international experts, began its assessment of the impact the Renaissance Dam project on Sudan and Egypt in 2011.

The committee’s final report, issued last year, said that preliminary studies conducted on the dam’s impact were insufficient to justify construction and more studies were needed.

Ethiopia’s foreign minister was scheduled to visit Cairo last July but the trip was cancelled in the wake of the uprising that led to Mohamed Morsi’s removal.

“Both Cairo and Addis Ababa are relying on expert opinion to ease tensions and open channels for dialogue,” says Sharawy.

The consulting companies and other experts are expected to complete their reports in the next six months.