A decade ago, Ethiopia embarked on the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Abbay River with the ambitious goal of bringing its citizens out of energy poverty. However, the downstream countries did not initially view the dam’s construction in the same positive light as Ethiopia had intended, which led to a series of negotiation between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan under the auspices of the African Union (AU).
The (GERD) negotiations /tripartite talks/ facilitated by the (AU), aimed to address the critical issues surrounding the fillings and annual operations of the GERD. The AU’s pivotal role include providing a neutral platform for the three countries to engage in constructive dialogue. Ethiopia strongly believes that the tripartite talks are essential in fostering cooperation and understanding among the three countries. One notable aspect of the AU process is the support received from mutual friends of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Nonetheless, the negotiation process encountered its share of challenges along the way, resulting in a protracted stalemate despite Ethiopia’s steadfast dedication to the guiding principle of “African Solutions to African Problems.”
A renewed commitment to the trilateral Negotiations took place on 13 July 2023, when H.E. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PH.D.) and H.E. President Al Sisi of Egypt met in Cairo, discussed bilateral and regional issues, and agreed to resume the trilateral negotiation. Accordingly, the tripartite talks continued in Cairo on 27 and 28 August 2023.
Recently, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the completion of the fourth filling of GERD. Prime Minister Abiy congratulated all who contributed in terms of finance, knowledge, and prayers. Prime Minister also called on citizens to replicate the best practices registered on GERD issues as well as other affairs. This collective effort, he emphasized, could yield improved outcomes and a brighter future for all Ethiopians.
On the contrary, to Ethiopia’s surprise, Egypt’s Foreign Minister dispatched a letter to the President of the United Nations Security Council levelling several accusations against Ethiopia. These included claims of Ethiopia’s infringement upon the Declaration of Principles and its purported disregard for the Security Council’s statement, which allegedly mandated Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to accelerate the development of a binding agreement concerning the filling and operation of the GERD.
Despite facing numerous challenges, Ethiopia’s resolve to construct the GERD remains unwavering. Ethiopians remain steadfast in its commitment to the dam’s successful realization. Ethiopia’s active participation in the trilateral negotiation reaffirms its determination to engage constructively with downstream countries, Sudan, and Egypt, with the ultimate objective of finalizing a draft agreement outlining guidelines for the GERD’s filling and annual operation.
The GERD, a hydroelectric dam situated on the Abbay River (blue-Nile), embodies Ethiopia’s aspirations for water, energy, and food security, as well as its efforts to uplift millions from poverty. It aligns with the universal right of Ethiopia’s citizens to lead dignified lives. Ethiopia’s proposal for concurrent negotiations on the GERD’s construction and filling is a testament to its commitment to cooperation. The Declaration of Principles (DoP), signed in 2015, stands as an embodiment of Ethiopia’s goodwill in the negotiation process.
Ethiopia reminds the UN Security Council that the GERD is fundamentally a development project and that there is no justifiable reason for the council to engage in this matter. In addition, the past four years of GERD filling have adhered to the DoP and scientific recommendations provided by the National Independent Scientific Research Group in September 2018. These fillings have had no adverse impact on downstream countries. Ethiopia remains confident that, with good-faith negotiations and adherence to accepted principles of international law, the GERD negotiations can achieve success on par with the Declaration of Principles.
Furthermore, following the Cairo negotiations second round of tripartite talks was held in Addis from September 23-24, 2023 in which the three countries were able to make progress on identifying issues of possible convergence. However, Egypt’s stance of undermining the DoP and self-claimed ‘water quota’ have set back the progress in the negotiation.
In conclusion, It is important to stress Ethiopia’s commitment to the tripartite talks in line with the 2015 DoP. Therefore, Ethiopia will continue its engagement to reach a win-win outcome through the ongoing trilateral process.
G77 Summit 2023:
The Group of 77 (G77) is a significant intergovernmental organization comprising developing countries within the United Nations. Its primary mission is to provide a platform for countries from the Global South to articulate and advocate for their collective interests. In 2023, the Republic of Cuba assumed the presidency of the G77, hosting a vital summit that focused on addressing current development challenges through the lens of science, technology, and innovation. The Summit under the Theme: “Current Development Challenges: The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation” was held from September 15 to 16, 2023. The summit drew the participation of high-level delegates, including H.E. Demeke Mekonen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia who delivered a statement during the general debate, addressing the pressing issues that hinder global development.
One of the most critical messages conveyed during the summit was the persistent disparity in innovative capacity between industrialized and developing countries. This innovation gap has posed a significant hurdle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. Ethiopia, through its representative, called for substantial reforms within global institutions to foster more inclusive decision-making processes that prioritize the interests of the Global South.
Ethiopia, along with other G77 member nations, expressed strong disapproval of unilateral sanctions and coercive economic measures imposed in violation of United Nations principles and international law. Such measures have had a detrimental impact on scientific, technological, and economic development progress in many developing nations. Ethiopia’s stance was clear as it rejects any unilateral sanctions and calls for the removal of such coercive financial measures, promoting global harmony and cooperation.
Recognizing the seismic shift brought about by the fourth industrial revolution, Ethiopia unveiled its first Digital Strategy. This strategy envisions an inclusive digital economy that not only promotes comprehensive development but also enhances Ethiopia’s participation in regional and global value chains. It is a forward-looking approach that embraces the transformative power of technology and innovation.
The anticipated outcome of the meeting includes the adoption of a declaration that will articulate the Group’s perspectives and interests regarding the role of science, technology, and innovation in relation to the Global Digital Compact, the General Review process of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS + 20), the SDG Summit, and the Summit of the Future.
In Conclusion the Summit highlighted the crucial role of science, technology, and innovation in addressing the development challenges facing the Global South. Ethiopia’s strong stance against unilateral sanctions and its commitment to fostering a more inclusive global decision-making process underscored the summit’s significance. As the world grapples with increasingly complex global issues, events like the G77 Summit serve as crucial platforms for collaboration and dialogue among developing nations to advance their collective interests and promote global peace and development.