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Egyptian “Experts”: unjustified statement on GERD

Egyptian "Experts": unjustified statement on GERD.

Recently, the Group of Nile Basin (GNB) of Cairo University, composed of professors who include members of a committee established to assess the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to the downstream riparian states, have issued statements about the GERD. These try to claim there are problems over the sufficiency of structural studies for the Dam and a lack of hydrological investigations. They also complain of the absence of an environmental impact assessment for Sudan and Egypt, and allege that the Ethiopian government was not willing to show details of studies pertaining to the reliability of the Dam, claiming it wasn't clear whether the Dam met the minimum requirements of international standards for its size.  

The ongoing construction of the GERD across the Blue Nile in Ethiopia seems to have provided a field day for those "experts" bent on harming the historically friendly relationship between our two countries, forever tied together not only through the Nile but also through history and culture. The "experts", instead of being faithful to their calling and informing the discussion over the GERD with truth and science, have joined the bandwagon of those who have politicized the issue out of all proportion for short-term expediency. We believe that is not the right way for scientists to show their patriotism. The sincere patriotism expected from solid scientists would have brought out the truth and the facts into the open, to prevent if not to moderate this manipulated hysteria and the frenzy of misinformation and disinformation activity.

Of late, there has been outspoken rhetoric from some senior Egyptian politicians, crossing the boundaries of minimal diplomatic civility and instigating direct attack on the people and government of Ethiopia, on the very people who in an unprecedented gesture of goodwill and in good faith had called upon their Egyptian and Sudanese brothers to jointly study the potential impact of the dam. We don't know of any single country in the Nile basin that has ever previously invited other riparian countries to study the impact of a dam on riparian countries. Definitely this has never been the experience of Egypt, at least in regards to Ethiopia.! If Ethiopia had chosen to follow historical precedent and indeed the example set by Egypt, there would never have been any consultations on GERD in the first place.

We have had the opportunity to read the recent statements from a group of people from Cairo University who call themselves the GNB (Group of Nile Basin). The statements they offer the Egyptian public at large and the politicians in particular are ill-motivated. It is a fact that over the last 10 years many scientists and consultants knowledgeable about the Nile basin have reiterated that a series of dams on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia would be attractive for the production of cheap, clean hydropower energy of a scale sufficient enough to meet all Ethiopia's needs and even provide for the export of a sizable proportion to Egypt and Sudan. These experts also confirmed that this was doable in a win-win scenario without significantly affecting the socio-economic interests of the two downstream countries, and, indeed, even generating substantial benefits to them. These include enhanced capacity to buffer the adverse impacts of Climate Change, induced by extreme events such as prolonged droughts or floods, sediment load reduction which would reduce costs incurred for dredging silted channels, and hydropower production which had been curtailed because of siltation as well as water saving and other benefits.


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