Making African Centered Solutions Work for The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance DAM (GERD): Equitable Development and Peaceful Coexistence
Venue: Online via Google Meet, Register here
Grand Renaissance Dam construction, believed to be a slingshot for Ethiopia’s economy in various ways, began in 2011 on the Blue Nile or Abay tributary in the northern Ethiopia highlands, from where 86% of the Nile’s waters flow. When complete, it will be not only Ethiopia’s but Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant. However, its construction has caused a row between Egypt and Ethiopia, with Sudan caught in between. At the center of the dispute are plans to fill up the mega-dam as Egypt fears the project will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa’s longest river. Hydroelectric power stations do not consume water, but the speed with which Ethiopia fills up the dam’s reservoir will affect the flow downstream. Besides being a matter of national sovereignty, the $4bn (£3bn) dam is at the heart of Ethiopia’s manufacturing and industrial dreams.
When completed it is expected to be able to generate a massive 6,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity enabling the country to address the acute shortage of electricity where over 65% of the total population is not connected to the grid. The energy generated will be enough to have its citizens connected and sell the surplus power to neighboring countries. Egypt on the other hand has proposed a longer period 12 to 21 years ensuring the level of the river does not dramatically drop. With the July deadline coming to end for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to become functional, the disagreement has escalated into a diplomatic stand-off. Some International Law experts have gone as far as predicting breakdown of political and diplomatic negotiations giving way to military means while others find such a notion as utterly unreasonable.
The United Nations Development Programme expressed concern that conflict over water resources could expand into “water wars”. This calls for African solutions for African problems – a commitment and determination by African leaders, the AU and RECs, to be in the driving seat in tackling the dilemmas facing the continent and ensure equitable development and peaceful coexistence as envisaged in Agenda 2063 the SDGs and other key regional and international instruments.
- Mrs. Lettie Tembo Longwe, Interim Director, African Peace and Security Programme, Head, Tana Secretariat, Institute for Peace and Security Studies(IPSS)
- H.E Amb Bugason Mike, Coordinator, AU Mediation Support Union, Peace and Security Department, AU Commission
- Mr. Abdul Mohammed, Chief of Staff, High Implementation Panel for the Horn of Africa, African Union.
- Dr. Sidi Omar, Representative of the Frente POLISARIO at the UnitedNations, New York, Visiting Researcher at the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain, Member of the Interuniversity Institute of Social Development and Peace (IUDESP), Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain
- MS. Elissa Jobson, Director, Director, Africa Regional Advocacy, International Crisis Group
- Dr. Yacob Arsano, An Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Addis Ababa University.
Dr. Yonas Adaye Adeto, Director, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University, Assistant Professor of African Security Governance and Peacebuilding