Ethiopia and Egypt have a long relationship, dating back several thousand years. Apart from the cultural and historical ties that have bound them together for centuries, the River Nile has been the major factor in tying the two countries and their peoples together for millennia.
Ethiopia is the main source of the Nile waters but it is a country that has made the least use of the Nile waters. Egypt has made greater use of the Nile waters than all Nile the riparian countries combined. This is due to the geographical, historic, and economic circumstances which have obtained in Egypt. It is regrettable that the previous Egyptian governments resorts to intimidation and uncooperative behaviour. They have consistently lobbied against Ethiopia’s endeavour to build hydro-power stations and other development activities. Ethiopia’s cooperative stance regarding the Nile water was not met with positive and constructive intent on the part of previous Egyptian governments. with positive and constructive engagement on the part of the previous Egyptian government.
Following the change of government in Egypt, the relation between the two countries are improving. Over the past few years the people and government of Ethiopia have expressed their readiness to use the Nile waters not only to benefit their country but also the subregion including Egypt. This firm stance is based on a spirit of cooperation and mutual advantage and aims at a just and equitable sharing of the Nile waters.
It is true that Ethiopian people and government will never do something in a way that harm their neighbours over the use of Nile waters in the meantime the Egyptian people will not prevent the Ethiopian people from doing something good for its people, but they can work together for the benefit of everybody on mutual trust and understanding. It is important to take into account the fact that cooperation on an international river is a necessary condition for stable international relations and trade between basin states.
Effective diplomatic relations and further fruitful engagement of non-governmental actors play critical role in fostering mutual trust that would enhance understanding and cooperation. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam offers a very real chance to provide a sound foundation for regional development on the basis of mutual respect.
Ethiopia has been guided by the principle of doing no appreciable harm to the downstream countries when the nation builds dams. It is clear that to fight and conquer poverty, the nation has to make massive investment in infrastructure including in power generation. It is well known that the nation’s investments in power generation is environmentally and socially responsible. Ethiopia is firmly believed the construction of the dam does not pose any harm to the downstream countries. It is clear that Ethiopia has followed a policy that guarantees the interest of both Egypt and Sudan.
In connection to the forthcoming visit of Pop Tewodros II of Alexandria to Ethiopia, Egyptian Bishop Biemen Wabil reaffirmed that Ethiopia has the right to use the Nile river for its development activities. Further on Thursday, the newly appointed Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Aboubakr Hefny said that beyond the question of the Nile River, Ethiopia and Egypt could work and cooperate in areas of commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural heritage management, education and engineering. This is important point forward because there has not been this kind of spirit of discussion and the spirit of win win approach.
Ethiopian and Egypt need to take a realistic view of the existing situation and strive towards achieving a level of cooperation that benefit the peoples of the two countries. As Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Kristos pointed out during his discussion with the Egyptian Ambassador the two countries need to work more closely together and firmly committed to avoid unnecessary concerns. Those misunderstood Ethiopia’s development on the Nile should come into term and should know the fact that Ethiopia is determined to develop and prosper together with its brothers and sisters in the downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt.
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