Garowe (Puntland Post Editorial) —  Egypt and Ethiopia, two countries that pride themselves upon being two ancient African civilisations, now seem unable to break the deadlock over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD ).  The problem is that each country has a sound argument about an equitable  use of the Nile water.

In a rule-based world Ethiopia may be demonised for seeking to gain, through GERD, the upper hand in the use of Nile water.

Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi should look into options for joint management of GERD

Ethiopia views the Anglo-Egyptian Nile agreements as defunct. It is not absurd to state that agreements that underpin  many African countries’ sovereignty date back to agreements  in which the British Empire was involved in one way or another.

Old European rivalries  still exist in different forms. There is no guarantee that a common stand of powerful countries on past agreements can emerge if Egypt submits its case against GERD to the United Nations for arbitration. At the United Nations GERD will become a political tussle with far-reaching consequences for Africans’ ability to resolve inter-state hostilities.

A lesson from the genesis of the European Union  contains a lesson about solving resource-based fear of a possible conflict. After the end of Second World War France was denied a role in talks over a new country, West Germany. Victors, USA and Britain, pushed France to seek a creative solution about its fears that a coal-rich region in West Germany could put Bonn on a path of rearmament. A Paris-Bonn agreement to jointly manage the coal production assuaged the fear of France and laid the foundation-stone of the European Union seven decades ago.

Since the Nile water is important for development goals of Ethiopia and Egypt’s survival imperatives agreeing to a principle of joint management of GERD can break the deadlock.

The GERD fear is less about lesser Nile water for Egypt. The Dam can set a precedent for other countries to seek an equitable use of the Nile  water by stopping the flow of the water into other countries that depend on the Nile for economic and survival reasons. The case for joint management of GERD has never been stronger.

© Puntland Post, 2020