The Blue Nile is an everlasting bond between riparian countries. For millennia, the river amassed water from upper riparian countries and provided Sudan and Egypt a life line. It has, however, been the Egyptians who relied heavily on the longest river in the world. The Greeks even called Egypt “the Gift of the Nile.” Considering Ethiopia contributes 85Pct of the Nile waters, it would be logical to say that ‘Egypt is the gift of Ethiopia.’ Despite its tremendous share of the Nile waters, Ethiopia has never used the river. On the other hand, Egypt does not contribute a drop to the river; however, it claims to have historic use rights that should not been questioned.
History shows us that the Egyptians attempted to control the source of the Nile on multiple occasions through military domination. However, they always tested defeat in the face of determined and righteous Ethiopians. The latest attempt was made by Ismail Pasha of Egypt. The Egyptian army, aided by European and American officers, invaded Ethiopia in 1876 but it was swept away by the ferocious patriotism of Ethiopians who righteously stood together to defend their motherland at the battle of Gundet, under the leadership of Emperor Yohannes IV.
Despite their repeated defeat, the Egyptians never ceased to threaten Ethiopia or conspire to destabilize the country. Honest and heartfelt attempts for cooperation have never been the agenda of Egyptians because, deep down, they know that their claims are not about fair utilization of the resource between riparian countries. On the other hand, Ethiopia has brought the issue to the table ever since the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) started its stride to become a reality, leaving its status as the fantasy of all Ethiopians. In return for its efforts towards cooperation, Ethiopia was met with more threats, more funding to forces of instability in Ethiopia and ridiculous requests to operate the GERD.
Over the nine years since the construction of the GERD started, Egyptian politicians repeatedly spoke of keeping “all options on the table” when it comes to sustaining their monopoly of the Nile river. The Egyptian diplomatic ruckus picked up momentum in recent months as they attempted to use the leverage of their international partners. Ethiopia persisted with its righteous approach to the utilization of the Nile waters. On July 19, 2020, Ethiopia finished the first round of filling of the GERD reservoir as it held 4.9 billion cubic meters of water. All those who worked to make sure we wouldn’t live to see that day felt what their ancestors felt during the battle of Gundet – defeat.
With the weight of the world upon their shoulders, Ethiopians once again demonstrated they can handle the unimaginable whenever they stand together for a common cause. The first two turbines will start generating electricity in June 2021, basically launching the first phase of operation of the dam. It is now a matter of months before Ethiopians start to enjoy the fruits of their solidarity.
Individuals, private businesses and public enterprises have also contributed to the construction of the dam. The dam is, therefore, the product of the sweat of ordinary people, small to large businesses and the government. We have already tested success and there is more of it ahead of us. The partial and full operation of the dam is expected to do justice to the frequent power outages in households, small businesses and industries, besides lighting up the houses of millions of Ethiopians. The fishing, irrigation and entertainment potential businesses along the new lake in formation is also tremendous. Therefore, the filling of the dam is a great news for business in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Business Review (EBR) congratulates businesses in Ethiopia, the public at large and the government on a job well done. EBR
9th Year • August 1 – 15 2020 • No. 89